Honest Feedback Makes for Happier Employees, So Step up and Tell it Like it is

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Employees respond better to honest and constructive feedback, so boost morale and improve productivity by engaging them proactively.

By Clark Buckner (Content Marketer & New Media Strategist, TechnologyAdvice.com)

Who wouldn’t want to be happier at work?

Claire Lew knows that happiness and employee engagement go hand-in-hand. That’s one of the reasons she started Know Your Company, a software tool that helps business owners (like those at Airbnb and Kickstarter) get to know their employees better. While at Converge FL, Lew spoke to me about her company and how honest feedback leads to happier workers.

In an earlier interview with Gio Difeterici of The Iron Yard, Lew mentioned that it’s the people who make a company successful, despite the fact that other issues—from profit margins to what the competition’s doing—often have a stranglehold on the company’s overall focus. Yet Lew argues that ensuring employee happiness helps to ultimately lead to better solutions for those other pressing and necessary issues.

How to Give Authentic, Helpful Feedback

One of the ways to grow a healthy employee culture is to provide feedback that’s both honest and yet mindful of the other person’s humanity.

Lew said: "You just have to be relentless about wanting to tell the truth, and you have to just believe that it does no good to hold the truth in. That's really the biggest thing to keep in mind, that people can sugarcoat things. People can smell BS, so it does no one good to keep those things inside …."

When pressed for specific ways to offer uncoated truth to managers or co-workers, Lew provided three helpful questions:

What’s the Outcome?

When offering feedback to another person, consider what you ultimately want to see happen as a result of offering feedback. Clearly knowing and communicating your goal will help both of you get from Point A to Point B.

How do I Want Them to Feel?

When Lew offers feedback to a boss or co-worker, she wants them to feel “like [they] can actually make the change.” Even though the issue at hand may be a problem because of the worker’s personality, Lew is careful to couch her feedback in terms of the issue itself rather than focusing on the person’s issues before her.

Instead of phrases that could be misconstrued as “You’re an incompetent employee,” she says the truth while focusing on the problem, ensuring that the worker feels positive about themselves and about solving the issue after Lew has offered feedback. She’ll use phrases like “Based on what I saw” or “This is what the project requires.”

What Hurdles are in the Way?

To get to Point B from Point A, what hurdles need to be jumped? If you’ve had prior, negative experiences in giving feedback to an employee, such information has to be taken into account when giving feedback again. Those past experiences could be a major hurdle in getting to the ultimate goal. Consequently, they must be dealt with in some form or else the issue will always prevent the larger issues from getting solved.

Visit KnowYourCompany.com to read more about increasing employee engagement, or connect with Claire Lew on Twitter at @cjlew23 or @knowyourcompany.

This interview was conducted by Clark Buckner from TechnologyAdvice.com. They provide coverage content on team member engagement software, customer loyalty plans, gamifying sales programs, and much more. Also, be sure to check out their technology conference calendar.

How confident are you when it comes to giving, and taking, feedback?

Photo credit: Syda Productions via Shutterstock.


About the guest blogger: Clark Buckner is a Content Marketer & New Media Strategist podcasting about technology and entrepreneurship at TechnologyAdvice.com. He enjoys the tech conference scene and discovering innovative ways to create new opportunities from emerging technologies. Tweet Clark a hello or follow him on Google +!