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3 Guiding Principles to Make Feedback More Effective, Even in a Hybrid Organization

By Rob O'Donohue | November 15, 2021 | 2 Comments

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For many organizations, it’s hitting peak performance review and feedback season with managers and employees are bracing themselves for some *potentially* tough exchanges. With hybrid work now more engrained, many perceive the feedback conversation to be even more challenging than when in person. But it doesn’t have to be.  In truth, feedback quality can be better when remote. In this piece, I share with you 3 guiding principles to follow to make feedback more effective.

Effective feedback is transformative and drives performance. It’s powerful in assisting individuals to move along the path to achieving their goals. In fact, results in a recent Gartner survey on performance and feedback (6500 employees across 7 regions and 23 industries) show that 81% of employees agree (see figure 1).

Figure 1

Figure 1

Feedback Problems Exist

The power of effective feedback is clear. Getting it right is complicated. Problems exist on the giver and receiver side with only 48% of employees reporting they receive actionable feedback. Further evidence shows that the receivers of feedback aren’t given enough support from the organization despite the impact of both giving and receiving feedback having the same effect on improving employee performance. In fact, 83% of employees report they’re ill-equipped to receive it, and 71% of organizations fail to provide adequate support. See figure 2.

Figure 2

Dispelling a Feedback Myth

The rapid move to remote and hybrid work during the pandemic amplified these problems raising concerns that feedback effectiveness would suffer. The widely held perception was that feedback in a remote setting is harder to do. However, since the pandemic began, feedback for hybrid and remote IT employees has improved compared to those that remain fully on-site. This dispels a myth that feedback can only be effective when done on-site.4 In reality, feedback in any setting can be effective if done thoughtfully and with intent.

Using these findings and additional research into the barriers of giving and getting effective feedback, I’ve created a set of recommendations that, if followed, make feedback more effective regardless of it is in person or remote as shown in figure 3.

Figure 3

GP #1 – Be a More Conscious Giver:

For feedback to be highly effective, the giver must be more conscious of how they give it. Managers and leaders that have become more intentional and deliberate have excelled. Personalizing it is key and keeping in mind any cultural sensitives should be always in mind.

GP#2 – Empower The Receiver To Take Ownership of the Feedback:

Figure 4

Traditionally, there has been a lopsided focus and perception on feedback effectiveness, with the giver holding all the power in driving performance improvement. The reality is very different. Evidence from research data shows that feedback-receiver effectiveness has an 18% impact on feedback utility compared to 15% for feedback-giver effectiveness. The same data shows that only 17% of employees are effective at receiving feedback, while only 29% of organizations provide support to feedback receivers

Therefore, CIOs must help managers/employees improve how to receive feedback through behavior change with a specific focus on feedback-seeking and processing. Improve feedback-receiver effectiveness (how effective employees are at seeking and using feedback) by developing two types of feedback behaviors that significantly impact feedback value, namely seeking and processing.

GP#3 – Make The Exchange Symbiotic:

Maximize the potential value of the feedback exchange by deliberately creating the environment beforehand, fostering a two-way learning mindset during the process and ensuring accountability is upheld on both sides afterwards. Ideally, if feedback is more continuous, this should be a given, however, for many it’s still more of a ‘have to’ than a ‘get to’ or ‘want to’ action.

The Feedback Sandwich Tastes Stale

The days of the “feedback sandwich” as a go-to feedback tactic are in the past. It’s a lazy way to fake a personable approach. Receivers aren’t stupid and can typically see through these contrived conversations. An insincere feedback exchange can do a lot more harm than good and leave a bad taste in the mouth and mind! Moving away from transactional to a more personable and human-centric approach is key to increasing feedback effectiveness and driving performance improvements in the hybrid future of work. Follow these principles and make the feedback exchange a more consistent and positive experience for both parties.

I hope this post has given you some useful ideas to consider as you embark on feedback exchanges. In the full paper, I go into specific actions to take for each guiding principle. Please do check out the full paper with actionable recommendations here.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Stay safe and well.

Rob


Any questions on this or any other research I’ve published?
Feel free to schedule an inquiry call (inquiry@gartner.com), follow me on Twitter (@RobODonohue) or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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2 Comments

  • Thierry says:

    thanks for the post and sharing this insights. but your last link is not working to the full paper.