Developing your employees is one of the most important responsibilities of managing your credit union. Helping employees grow, learn and evolve requires a communication continuum. Providing productive feedback is essential to the mix. These conversations can focus on accomplishments, strengths, and behaviors that management wants to reinforce and encourage. Alternatively, there are behaviors that managers need to coach employees to change. Mastering the art of feedback conversations is a skill that can and should be learned by managers and practiced regularly. Indeed, a well done feedback is like watering your garden. It is necessary for employee growth and should be provided regularly.
When there is trust between management and employees, feedback has the best chance of working well. Trust is fostered when a manager lets employees know that they want them to develop their best selves. Trust is built when managers really listen by keeping their eyes and ears open to assess the situation and really hear what’s going through someone’s mind. In practicing the art of feedback, managers should strive to get a sense of the employee’s state of mind, as this state of mind is important in pre-planning these feedback conversations. People with a “growth” mindset believe that their talent is not fixed and innate, but that success comes from hard work and learning. They are responsive to feedback and they even go seek it out to speed up their growth process. Conversely, someone with a fixed mindset may have an underlying belief that their abilities and talent are fixed, innate, and unchanging. This person may not even be aware of this underlying belief, but it may cause them to view the comments as criticism rather than an opportunity for growth. When managers confirm, through positive feedback, the employee’s ability to learn and grow, it has a positive effect on building trust and, over time, the person’s mindset. can evolve into a growth mindset.
Positive feedback focuses on success and what went well, while developmental feedback focuses on behaviors that need to change. Various studies place the optimal ratio of positive feedback to developmental feedback at different levels, but all studies advise overweighting positive feedback. Many companies find an optimal ratio at around 3 positive feedback interactions for every development interaction.
Regular conversations are essential. The more frequent high-quality interactions between managers and employees, the higher the level of employee engagement. These interactions don’t always have to be 30-minute meetings. They can be quick and happen in person, over the phone, or even via text. Frequency and quality matter more than length. When giving development feedback, the manager must ensure that the recipient is in the best possible position to hear it. For example, the time of day can have an effect. When a person is fresh and alert, they are better able to hear information about areas that need strengthening or behaviors that need to change, rather than when their energy level is low due to fatigue, stress or even hunger before lunchtime.
Engaged employees mean better service to members and better financial performance. When credit union leaders strive to master the art of employee feedback and practice it consistently in a high-quality manner, they build a culture of trust and foster employee engagement.