Book Club: Improving Workplace Feedback
Among the most important factors for employee morale and motivation is making sure staff know where they stand on performance and expectations. Depending on scope of work, personality type and a wide range of additional factors, what is considered excellent employee feedback has a lot of variance. While there’s no broad-brush answer for how to give optimal feedback, managers can increase their chances of properly connecting with employees by studying the nature of evaluation tactics and keeping an open dialogue.
The following books specialize in how to hone the craft of employee feedback. Considerations include how to anticipate potential conflicts ahead of time, how to critique employee approaches without discouraging them, tips for how frequently and in what setting to have feedback conversations in, and more.
The Power of Feedback: 35 Principles for Turning Feedback from Others into Personal and Professional Change — written by Joseph R. Folkman and published by Wiley, this book focuses not just on what the best feedback strategies are, but presents them in a a directly applicable way for readers. Examples include the use of surveys and other related instruments that allow for employees to speak their mind freely and without fear of consequence. It also focuses on how managers themselves accept feedback from employees — a part of the process that is often overlooked as so much concern centers on how the staff themselves are evaluated. This book will help refine the approach managers take to overcome different obstacles, and help to determine which feedback related issues need slight tweaks, over total overhauls.
Let's Talk: Make Effective Feedback Your Superpower — written by Therese Huston and published by Portfolio, this book focuses on the necessary, yet difficult conversations managers need to have with underperforming employees. The issue of infrequent feedback is discussed, as it references a study in which over one-third of managers dislike giving feedback, and nearly two-thirds of employees themselves indicate that they wished to receive more of it from their boss. Much of the issues behind these conversations is knowing how to approach the topic delicately, but with affirmation. Huston outlines several applicable tips, which include giving the employee the benefit of the doubt off-the-bat to not make it feel like they're being attacked — while still giving examples of where improvements need to be made.
The Feedback Imperative: How to Give Everyday Feedback to Speed Up Your Team's Success — written by Anna Carroll and published by River Grove Books, this book dives into the particular reasons why feedback discussions can be so difficult. Examples include generation gaps, personality type differences, and how the culture of a company can indirectly impact how frequent or in-depth feedback is being given. It also discusses the importance of not only managers giving feedback to employees (and vise versa) but the value of manager-to manager feedback and discovering blindspots in leadership that employees may fear giving to their superiors.