By Kim Franklin
As the financial industry becomes more and more competitive, credit unions have to focus on continuously refining their policies, procedures and employees’ skills to meet their members’ needs. One way to foster this type of improvement is by gathering information from and giving feedback to employees.
Feedback meetings provide credit unions with a unique opportunity to garner valuable insights from its employees as well as create an open forum that encourages discussion around employee development. However, feedback can be a harsh process that requires brutal honesty. Consequently, managers must be precise and strategic when delineating constructive feedback.
So, what are some key steps to getting the most out of feedback meetings?
Before providing feedback, managers should give a brief explanation about why the meeting is beneficial to both the employee and credit union. Specifically, managers need to include the following phrase: “I'm giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them.” Researchers foundthat their “feedback [was] 40% more effective” by using this phrase and framing the purpose as a means to help the employee.
Because “negative feedbackcan have significant adverse effects on an employee’s well-being — and, presumably, their productivity–managers have to proceed cautiously when giving criticisms. Upon hearing what may be perceived as negative feedback, employees typicallybecome “so defensive….[they start] to censor the information [they] take in and process.” Therefore, managers should make calculated decisions on what negative items are worthy of bringing up to the employee and which are not severe enough to mention.
Assess the Employee’s Skill Level
Depending upon their skillset and knowledge, employees take and use feedback differently.
According to researchers, “novicesare more likely than experts to seek positive feedback on their strengths and alter their behaviors…. whereas experts are more likely…to seek negative feedback on their weaknesses and alter their behaviors and attitudes when they get this feedback.” Thus, managers must modify their feedback strategy accordingly. This will ensure your employee gets the most out of the information you present.
Give Feedback Frequently
Feedback meetings should not be a once a year event. Rather, managers ought to check in with employees frequently to give feedback and discuss pending projects. Not only does this create a more casual environment around the sometimes-tense employee feedback process, it also allows employees an opportunity to immediately work on adjusting their actions as well as eliminates any surprises at performance reviews.
Establish Future Goals
After providing feedback, credit union managers need to create an opportunity to discuss the employee’s future goals and objectives. This is a critical juncture where managers can reiterate the purpose of the feedback meeting and how the employee can take steps to improve their performance. Furthermore, it provides metrics by which the employee can measure their performance going forward.
Credit union managers can use feedback as a means to continually improve as well as aide their employees’ career development. However, managers must be highly cognizant of the potential effects feedback can have on their employees’ performance and well-being. When implemented correctly, feedback meetings can empower credit unions with employees who are committed to the goals and long-term growth of their institution.
Kim Franklin is HR Manager at EPL, Inc.