Engaging with feedback

In our team we will soon receive our annual employee engagement survey results. This a regular exercise in many companies and one that sheds light on dynamics of team performance, culture and wellbeing.

It is however only providing a snapshot. A moment in time with limited scope for understanding nuance, personal differences and context. The feedback is highly important and the initial response rate also provides an interesting insight, yet this data must be used as part of a wider approach to engagement if we are to truly create aligned & high performing organisations.

Fostering a high performing organisation

Those last words are key to focus on. The goal I have in mind is to create & maintain a high performing organisation. One where people strive to deliver on the company’s goals through commitment to those goals. And where the company in turn provides clear career & personal development opportunities.

These concepts can mean different things to different people at different times. As leaders we certainly need to foster an overarching company culture through our actions. We must though also be able to adjust to support individuals within our teams with the tailored development they require.

A fellow contributor on TSP, Frank Clayton, recently wrote that “good managers, who lead and coach their people, have the power to drive engagement through their actions”. Those few words reach to the core of leadership and what we should demand of ourselves and all leaders within our teams. The regular interactions between leaders and team members are what form the foundation for an engaging workplace and yet it is an area with much room for improvement.

Feedback

Feedback and development coaching for instance is a basic need for all employees whatever their level. Despite this necessity it can unfortunately be overlooked in the coaching of new leaders. When moving into leadership roles, success takes on the added dimension of creating high performers and people capable of making that same transition to leadership responsibility.

Through this lens, it is critical to share feedback. Feedback on how people are engaging with others, what is working well and where there is room for improvement. Too often however, people shy away from these development opportunities for fear of an difficult conversation or upsetting the individual.

In reality however, the opposite occurs. People do not receive the feedback they need & desire. This leads to a disengaged environment with a leader who is seen as disengaging from their staff as the root cause.

Provide opportunities

Following on from feedback is the need to provide opportunities for development. As employers we have a duty to help staff achieve their goals through opportunities to develop. We must offer various new challenges and chances to build new skills coupled with the opportunity of being successful overtime.

As mentioned above, development means different things to different people. Personal meaning can also change as time passes so there is no one size fits all solution. Therefore a range of options and pathways must be provided. In our office for example, an employee led training program recently started in addition to formal training provided by HR.

It is far to early to say how successful the program is. Yet the pull from our team to create such an approach shows there was a need being unmet.

Engaging everyday

These are but two areas of a vast topic and I am curious to see how our own business is judged to be moving when the results become available – snapshot or not! I have no doubt there will be areas where our employees feel we are hitting the mark and others where we are off. Being an engaging leader is not something I profess to be, however I am clear for myself that it is an ongoing daily exercise, rather than something which can be ‘fixed’ in a project plan and then filed away to pull out again if needed.

Frank Clayton’s article on engagement – Stop washing fish!

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