An appraisal once a year with your manager – this is still the usual way of doing things in most companies, yet feedback shared in this manner does not always have the desired effect. In the worst-case scenario, employees may even feel personally criticized or unfairly treated. An increasingly important tool in the modern work environment is informal feedback – i.e. feedback that is given spontaneously without going through excessive official channels, and is therefore more direct and less hierarchical. Henkel has created a digital feedback tool that supports this approach, creating the opportunity to receive and share positive feedback quickly and simply at any time.
Three questions for …
... Armin Trost, Professor of HR management, speaker and consultant
How has cultural change also changed feedback culture?
The conventional employee appraisal has largely been phased out because it is no longer compatible with modern working methods and the new management style that we strive for today. Most companies recognize that things are moving very quickly. They are networked and structured into teams; their thought processes and management strategies are less vertical and more horizontal. There is no longer a top-down approach, because only giving top-down feedback is no longer effective enough and is often the wrong approach for what you’re trying to achieve. There is no need to institutionalize feedback; employees should be able to gather it proactively – and even praise only works if it is given freely and spontaneously.
What is the secret to giving good, motivating feedback?
It depends on many factors. In order for employees to learn from it, feedback should be given promptly and should show appreciation. But what matters most is the setting – the context in which the feedback is given. Proactively gathered feedback is more likely to result in behavioral change than feedback that is simply imposed. The relationship between the feedback provider and the person receiving the feedback also plays a role. Feedback should always “belong” to the person concerned. It should contribute to reflection and be intrinsic. As soon as people have the impression that these details are now on file and may have consequences, there is a risk of the feedback becoming a judgment – leading people to start justifying themselves rather than learning from the feedback.
Does it make a difference whether you receive feedback from your manager or from your colleagues?
Yes. If the manager is also the person evaluating performance, it becomes more difficult. In my view, a manager should never be both judge and coach. Making judgments while at the same time providing feedback does not work. These psychological correlations are often overlooked.