Performance reviews and feedback are daunting – not only for employees but also for managers, who dread having to tell employees they are not performing as they should be.
It’s one of those awkward conversations that nobody wants to have; and, too often, they are botched. Employees are left feeling demotivated, managers feel like gremlins, and it can have a negative impact on the entire team.
It is often assumed that when feedback is given it’s because something is wrong and needs to be fixed. But feedback doesn’t need to be all negative. Feedback can be a positive affirmation that someone is doing their job well, and recognition of their efforts can be a motivating factor in the future. In fact, even if there are issues that need to be corrected, feedback can have a positive outcome if delivered in the right way.
Elements of Good Feedback
Feedback is not something that should be rushed or presented as an afterthought to a conversation. Rather, a dedicated time should be scheduled between the manager and employee to sit down, one-on-one, and go through all the details.
If the objective is to correct behaviour and motivate, then extra care needs to be taken in the delivery. A direct approach is best, taking the time to talk through specific issues that are relevant to achieving better outcomes.
A two-way conversation will provide some context. Sometimes an employee did something because there was no other alternative, and they saw it as the best solution in that particular situation. Perhaps the systems were down that day, or there were issues with the phone lines. It’s good for managers to get some context before assuming employees are simply not doing their jobs properly.
Feedback That Motivates
When giving feedback, managers should consider the outcomes they want to achieve. Is it to correct behaviour, establish where knowledge gaps exist or motivate the team to achieve higher targets?
Often, when employees understand the reasons behind the feedback and can see the bigger picture, they are more willing to make the effort to change. It becomes less about them as an individual and what they might be doing wrong, and more about helping them see how they can improve their skills and knowledge to become more effective.
The question often raised is: How do managers know that the behaviour they are addressing is consistent and ongoing, or something that occurs occasionally and happens to raise a red flag?
Improving Accuracy of Feedback With Analytics
Speech analytics can help answer the question as to whether the behaviour being flagged is a one-off isolated incident or a true reflection of what’s happening on a daily basis.
Rather than analysing only a small sample of calls, which would be the case if managers were to manually listen in, speech analytics can sample 100% of calls and provide a more accurate overview on which to base the results.
Additionally, search parameters can be set according to specific goals or objectives. In other words, if a contact centre wants to evaluate their closing rate, keywords and phrases are used to highlight if opportunities for closing are arising and if the agents are picking up on these cues.
Alternately, if a manager wants to determine if there are specific knowledge gaps, related keywords can be used in the search parameters to see how and where this is occurring. This information not only provides managers with accurate information on which to base feedback but also gives them insights on which topics and skills need to be the focus of learning and development.
Armed with this data, managers can address knowledge and skills gaps with employees from a positive perspective.
The conversation can go something like: “The analytics highlighted that on calls relating to closing sales (for example), you seem a bit uncertain. To help you gain more confidence in this area, we have learning scheduled that will help you acquire the skills you need.”
Providing feedback in this way creates a positive future perspective that gives employees the confidence to ask for help. The reason for this is that they won’t feel threatened and will realise they aren’t going to lose their job or be penalised because there is something they can’t do.
Rather, it’s about being able to do their job better. Managers are more likely to get an honest answer when they ask the question: “Is there anything in particular that you find difficult or daunting that we can help you with?”
No individual or team will get everything right all the time, but having accurate data on which to base feedback can help keep continuous improvement on a positive footing.