One issue employees have with receiving feedback is that it feels like an annual event. Providing more consistent feedback is a start. But creating a work culture of accountability in which constructive criticism is par for the course is also crucial. Our research has shown that accountability is a major issue, with employees claiming that their companies don’t do enough to ensure that everyone is doing their job.
In a Harvard Business Review article, Joseph Grenny explores how a moving company with employees who are there as an alternative to incarceration adopted a radical policy to establish a culture of accountability. At The Other Side Movers, employees aren’t just accountable for their own work — they’re 100% accountable for the rest of their team’s work too. This policy has had tremendous results, with the business topping $1 million in its first year and receiving rave reviews from customers.
Incorporating feedback into your company’s routine starts with ditching the annual performance review and providing consistent feedback on a weekly or biweekly basis. But going beyond this will help grow accountability at your company.
If feedback is solely from higher-ups, it won’t be as effective. Managerial feedback can change employee behavior, but the feedback is even stronger when supported by other employees. Provide training to employees on how to offer constructive criticism to their peers. This feedback should always be offered in a polite, respectful, nonpersonal manner that focuses on improving the employee’s work.
When employees don’t feel comfortable correcting each other’s work, the results are dismal. We’ve found that a major source of frustration for employees is lack of colleague follow through. Establishing sound networks of peer-to-peer feedback is critical to long-term retention. This also works for praise — we’ve found that employees highly value receiving positive feedback from their peers.
Instead of an annual review that’s scheduled as an hour-long meeting, ongoing coaching and feedback should simply be part of the routine. Incorporating feedback into the company’s standard methods of communication and providing it more frequently is a start.
Simply making the rounds and checking in with employees is also an opportunity to provide feedback. This way employees learn to expect feedback, rather than dread it.
In our report, The Truth Behind Performance Reviews, employees often said that managers were biased in the way they offered feedback. They favored some employees over others and failed to be consistent in the way they provided feedback.
With The Other Side Movers, their solution was that employees offering each other feedback would only do so in a spirit of “pulling up” their brothers and sisters. The correction is only intended to do the best job possible because all of the employees’ fates rest with the company. Feedback should only be directed toward everyone doing the best job they possibly can.
Providing consistent, meaningful feedback is a challenge for business leaders everywhere. By creating a culture that values informal constructive criticism, accountability will increase.