written by Samawat Shakil
The shift from an industrial to a knowledge economy has had a far-reaching impact across the socio-economic spectrum. Employee engagement, and the concept of learning as a continuous, career-long process, have led to a paradigm shift in the way organizations think about the modern work-force. While every modern organization codifies employee empowerment and engagement as a way to enhance organizational productivity and well-being, the finer points of establishing a culture and concomitant processes that drive such change often fall by the wayside.
The cornerstone of any effective employee engagement policy is a culture of open and continuous feedback, and it is worth analyzing the different aspects of an effective feedback process:
- Effectively communicating the organization’s strategic goals, and aligning an employee’s goals to that broader context, are critical. It is an opportunity for managers to answer the ‘why’ behind the objectives that are being set and should be grabbed with both hands, as it also an opportunity to appeal to an employee own narrative of professional and personal growth. Employees, especially millennials, view careers holistically through the lens of personal growth, and communicating a vision that they can buy into and build a sense of ownership around can make all the difference.
- Ensuring that performance discussions never devolve into subjective, ad-hominem, judgments, and instead are based on data on key results, and with a keen eye on progress towards personal and organizational objectives. As the saying goes, you cannot improve what you cannot measure. In a similar vein, the best chances of employees achieving their goals lie in constructive feedback based on measurable current progress and a clear roadmap to goal fulfillment.
- In a world where continuous learning and reinvention are the names of the game, it is incumbent upon managers to also play the role of advisor and mentor. A regular cadence of communication that focuses on learning and development of new skill sets, in tune with the changing requirements of a dynamic workplace, can be invaluable for both employee and organization. The organization benefits by nurturing and developing a long-term relationship with the employee, and in turn the employee accrues benefits that positively impact her career goals.
- Social media and numerous other outlets ensure that old, top-down, communication hierarchies within an organization are not sustainable. Traditionally, feedback mechanisms have been an opportunity to focus narrowly on the employee, without attention to the surrounding organization around them. This can lead to very myopic and task-oriented thinking. Contemporary feedback discussions should also allow employees to seek clarifications from managers, and other higher-ups, around overall strategy, performance and roadmap. Instead of a knee-jerk reaction to perceived ‘insubordination’, this should be treated by managers and executives as an opportunity to refine both the content of the overall strategy and the messaging around it.
In opposition to the traditional concept of workers in ‘silos’, where specializing in one thing for a long time was supposed to be optimal, the modern workplace is more complex and more interconnected. A culture of clear and effective feedback that cuts across hierarchies is the only way to make sure that an organization thrives in such an environment.
About Samawat Shakil
Samawat Shakil is Marketing Specialist at GroSum, a performance management software system that helps build a goal-oriented & continuous feedback based work culture. She frequently interviews HR thought leaders and reports on topics ranging from performance management to employee engagement.