Developing your employees is one of the most important responsibilities of running your credit union. Helping employees grow, learn and evolve requires a continuum of communication. 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, good feedback is like watering your garden. It is necessary for employee growth and should be provided on a regular basis.
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 the best in themselves. Confidence is built when managers really listen, keeping their eyes and ears open to assess the situation and really hear what’s going on in someone’s head. When practicing the art of feedback, managers should strive to get a feel for the employee’s state of mind, as 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 is the result of hard work and learning. They are receptive to comments and they even go research to speed up their growth process. Conversely, a person with a fixed mindset may have the underlying belief that their abilities and talent are fixed, innate, and unchanging. This person may not even be aware of this underlying belief, but this can cause them to view the comments as a review rather than an opportunity to grow. When managers affirm, through positive feedback, the employee’s ability to learn and grow, this has a positive effect of building confidence and, over time, the person’s state of mind can move on to that of growth.
Positive feedback focuses on success and what went well, while developmental feedback focuses on behaviors that need to change. Various studies place the optimal relationship between positive feedback and developmental feedback at different levels, but all studies advise overweighting positive feedback. Many companies find an optimal ratio to be around 3 positive feedback interactions for each development interaction.
Regular conversations are essential. The more frequent the 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 should 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 cool 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 levels are 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 strengthen a culture of trust and foster employee engagement.