5 simple tactics for turning employee feedback into a habit

Lack of feedback, both positive and constructive, can be challenging for companies. Too often, employees fail to be recognized or don’t know where they stand with their manager or their team.

However, people are in desperate need of recognition for their hard work. Recognition doesn’t have to be costly, OfficeVibe found that 82% of employees think it's better to give someone praise than a gift yet 63% don't feel they get enough praise.

You can easily get started on increasing recognition, simply by encouraging colleagues to share feedback with one another on a regular basis. If you have a performance management system that supports real-time feedback, this can be as easy as sending someone praise for a job well done.

The benefits of positive feedback

Researchers have found that when we receive positive feedback dopamine is released into the brain, causing the feeling of happiness. However, this is a temporary reaction. As a result, we are motivated to continue working hard, repeating behaviors which earned us that feeling.

This cycle can also have a knock-on effect on other employees. When others witness these good behaviors and see the positive effects of executing them, they then crave that same feeling and begin to replicate the behavior.

Testifying to the power of praise, a survey of US based employees commissioned by OGO found that 40% would put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often.

In fact, it’s not only feedback from managers that can have an impact. A study by Globoforce and SHRM showed that peer-to-peer is 35.7% more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager-only recognition.

How to turn employee feedback into a habit

With pressing deadlines and countless meetings, it can sometimes be difficult to priortize giving feedback to each other. The trick is to turn it into a habit. Behavioral psychologists assert that there are four stages of habit, and by breaking it down we can understand how it works and how to improve it.

We have taken this and applied this to feedback, here are five steps you can take to get started on turning feedback into a habit.

1. Make giving feedback as easy as possible

Stanford Professor BJ Fogg explains that the key to successfully changing your behaviors is to start with a ‘tiny habit’. Rather than introducing a big change, start with something small that’s easy to accomplish. After getting used to integrating small habits into their workflow, people will naturally start challenging themselves to do more.

Forget big change, start with a tiny habit

By starting with existing systems or processes it makes this change a lot easier as it is already part of peoples workflows. At Impraise we have a Slack integration which allows you to send real-time feedback to anyone within the company by simply typing /praise @(recipient's name) and hitting enter!

2. Share feedback in real-time

Positive feedback has a significantly higher impact when it’s given just after reaching a milestone or achievement. Waiting for the next performance review (which can often be months) to recognize each other’s success, can make it seem more like an afterthought. Celebrating achievements in the moment is the best way to show appreciation and boost morale.

When an employee or teammate displays a behavior worthy of feedback (both positive or constructive) share it in real-time, this gives them time to celebrate or rectify their behaviors.

3. Ensure the feedback is actionable

One common mistake people make with praise, is to simply say “Good job!” or “Excellent work!”. However this makes it very difficult for the recipient to know exactly what they did that was appreciated, or which particular part was well-done.

To make the feedback truly meaningful, we follow this formula C.O.I.N:

  1. Describe the situation to give context
  2. Explain the behavior you observed
  3. Talk about the impact it had on you
  4. Include next steps, even if it's just to say 'continue to do this'

4. Reward the behavior

The great thing about positive feedback is that it’s rewarding in itself, making us feel great about our work. What we found is that praise is actually contagious: when your teammate recognizes your work it not only makes you feel great, it also makes you want to share that great feeling.

At Impraise, to make the ‘reward’ portion even more effective, we created a Slack channel for our “praise”, where everyone can see when someone is praised - including remote and international teammates.

We noticed that the more people received praise notifications on Slack, the more likely they were to share praise with others, which helped us increase positive feedback throughout the company.

5. Keep track of your praise

Often the star team members are the ones who go the extra mile to help a colleague or stay until the last detail is perfect, even when their manager is not around. To make sure those moments don't go unnoticed, we made sure that all praise is recorded in Impraise so people can go back and refer to it later or share it with their manager during their next check-in.

Remember: recognition doesn’t have to be costly; it can be as simple as giving someone positive feedback. Follow the five steps we outlined above to help people get into the habit of sharing feedback with one another for a job well done, and slowly strengthen your culture of feedback.

Download our WhitePaper on the Benefits of Real-Time Feedback to improve company culture and employee engagement through praise and constant feedback.

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