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Constructive Performance Feedback

SHARE   |   Tuesday, 30 October 2018   |   By Isang Lekhutile
Constructive Performance Feedback

ISANG LEKHUTILE

The Work Place

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Lon Watters said “school is a building which has four walls with tomorrow inside”. I attended a primary school prize giving ceremony at Palapye Central Primary School. Going to Palapye was not just for the academics but also an opportunity to share ideas, to be around people who are passionate about teaching and learning. What a great day I had and no regrets at all. The school kids were great, teachers and parents very awesome. I have always respected prize-giving activities, especially at primary schools because primary schooling is an absolute fundamental step to a successful life. To me, every child deserves a champion be it a teacher or parent. A champion that will never give up on them; A champion who understands the power of connection between education and the world; A champion that insists and assist them to become the best that they can possibly be. Moreover, the beautiful thing about education is that no one can take it away from you and you have it for the rest of your life. This was the message to the students, teachers and parents. 

Every school has that teacher or teachers whom students will always look to for inspiration. The Directors of the ceremony sparkled the event with endless gags that connected to the event, and at this particular one, it was a great job well done by Ms Beleng and Mr Chakabuya. The ceremony was outstanding and very colourful with performances from scouts, traditional dances and of course the solo local performance of Mochesa that moved students from their seats. My observation was lack or less participation of parents in the school activities, which was echoed by the school head. Learning and Education particularly at primary school should be parent centred, since without parent support, the teachers and school leadership cannot achieve the desired results. I am challenging the former Palapye Central Primary School students and parents to form Alumni and be part of the school committees such as Parent and Teachers Association. In addition, to the Teachers and School Management I say, “together we can” and “yes we can” produce higher results ever recorded.  The challenge is still on.

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Now to the point at hand, in today’s organisations performance management and feedback are critical to improving human performance in organisations. According to Goal Setting, Control and Social Cognition theories have mentioned Feedback as an essential element for goal accomplishment and organisational performance. A structured feedback is necessary to motivate and encourage employees to improve on grey areas. Providing feedback is essential to every employee and is an important management tool. Feedback approach implemented by the manager or supervisor will influence employee behaviour and attitude towards their job. For most organisations, Performance Management is one of the functions of Human Resources and it is the Human Resources Department to provide coaching to line managers and Supervisors on how to provide feedback to individual employees. Feedback is the backbone of Performance Management and Supervisors should provide feedback from a development point of view so that it can equip employees to develop and learn. Often organisations design and implement the performance management system and overlook to incorporate the feedback process in their performance management system. Feedback is a two-way communication between two parties being the supervisor and the subordinate. The communication provides information about the quality of work. Through communication, Supervisors are able to appreciate the good and the bad performance of the employee. Communications are more effective where feedback is applied.The purpose of feedback is also to identify the strength and weakness of the employee and provide opportunity for development, corrective and preventative measures to be actioned as well.

The process of feedback can be negative or positive depending of the circumstances but the most important aspect of feedback should be constructive and not destructive. It is important for supervisors to provide constructive feedback whether in primary schools, clinics, government department or even in medical professions to improve self-awareness of employee and to encourage development. Performance Feedback session should be one of the key areas in which organisations should invest and train supervisors on. Subordinates value feedback and subordinates resign from organisations mostly due to Supervisors’ inability to manage process and support them. Performance feedback is one area which organisation should really train and invest on. More often, exit interviews always enquire about performance assessment of employees and whether Supervisors provided frequent feedback on their performance. I have seen many negative exit interviews due to lack or no feedback from Supervisor. Constructive Feedback as opposed to just feedback assists employees in solving performance setbacks, changes behaviour positively and overall provides meaningful direction and suggest possible corrective measures. This is what keeps employees engaged. Employees appreciate organisational honesty, transparency and communication. Employees need trust, support and respect from their Supervisors and constructive feedback provides that. 

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Performance management is a process, which aims at increasing the individuals’, teams and organisational performance. Lebas (1995) defines performance as actions aimed at driving organisations to meet its set objectives and goals. One of the dangers in the performance feedback is the absence of feedback at all from a Supervisor. Absence of feedback from Supervisor has triple effects to the organisational performance, individual employee performance and as well as the Supervisor. Feedback is the interaction between individuals as either subordinate, Supervisor and sharing information, meaning and knowledge. Absence of Feedback simplifies lack of communication, which has direct and indirect effects on organisational performance. Employees may suffer from poor performance because of not receiving feedback and it is very common in many organisations. Most writers acknowledge that delivering feedback is one of the challenges that could lead to absence of feedback. Delivering Feedback is an art that must be learned and harnessed for perfection. It requires the Supervisor to wear different hats and play a range of roles such as being a friend, counsellor, parent or psychiatrist. Acquiring feedback skills, both in giving and receiving feedback, requires years of experience, training and genuine interest in the employee wellbeing by a Supervisor. Lack of experience can be a challenge and can lead to lack or absence feedback. It is the duty of Human Resources Department to assist, coach and train managers to master the art of conversing with Subordinates and give feedback in a formal or informal setting.

In conclusion, the end of the year represent two things in an organisations and one of the two is performance evaluation and feedback to employees. This is the time when organisations reflect on their employee’s performance and evaluate it. Performance Feedback should be one of the Human Resources Strategies to improve employee motivation and engagement. Performance Feedback allows and or provides organisations with an opportunity to develop (KSAOs) that is Knowledge, Skills and abilities for successful performance of employees. Another critical component of performance feedback is the use for it to generate training needs analysis and matric to gauge organisational capability and strength. Performance feedback is an unavoidable element of organisational life, which should be ruminated as a strategic component in the success of an organisation. Feedback is the cheapest, most powerful, yet, most underused management tool that we have at our disposal. It helps people get on track and serves as a guide to assist employees to know how they and others perceive their performance. The 360-Degree approach to performance feedback is one of the most effective strategies, which I recommend as well in an organisation whether educational, retailing or mining. According to Kouzes and Pozner (2000), 360 degrees feedback is one of the powerful mechanisms in the field of performance appraisal system. At the end, we all need constructive feedback so that we can improve and let us use constructive feedback as breakfast for champions.

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