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A 40% uplift in employee performance? Feedback is key: Management, Talent & Leadership Development

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Would you like an uplift in your employees' performance of around 40%? Well, it's not as far-fetched as it may seem.

Back in 2002, the Corporate Leadership Council published a report called "Building the High-Performance Workforce". In it, they examined quantitively what factors improved performance and by how much. The results show how feedback skills needs to be incorporated into management, talent and leadership development programs.

As the graph from the report below shows, fair and accurate ongoing informal feedback is one of the most effective performance boosters, showing a maximum of 39.1%. Quite extraordinary when you think about it. It's also worth noting how an "emphasis on performance weaknesses" affects performance too - a decrease of up to 10.9%.

Graph shows how fair and accurate feedback can increase productivity by 39%
How feedback improves employee engagement and productivity

That middle bar is also important - "Manager likelihood to volunteer informal feedback" can give you a boost of up to 14.7%. The very act of offering feedback in the first place, without delay, gives employees a sense of engagement, a sense that their manager is invested in them, that results in improved performance.

What are often regarded as the main points to make in feedback conversations can actually be detrimental too. Look where "Emphasis on performance weaknesses" appears - right over there on the righthand side, decreasing performance by up to around 11%.

That's why we always recommend that a feedback conversation is 'upward focused', that seems to provide a path to better days. It needs to be a conversation that gives them something to aim for that will benefit the employee rather than highlight and emphasise weaknesses. Yes, problems and skills gaps of course need to be mentioned, but when they become the focus, employee performance drops off markedly.

So what can we conclude about how to deliver feedback to our team for maximum performance? We need feedback that is:

- Fair (in the eyes of the employee)

- Accurate (in the eyes of the employee)

- Regular and provided not long after the actions it refers to

- Specific and useful

- Forward looking and inspiring

And of course, this all works just as well for positive feedback too. It can help remind employees what they're doing right, and provide a plan to make sure they continue to do that or develop it further.

What an extraordinary thought - that regular feedback like this can improve performance by so much. Let's make it happen.

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