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Providing Timely Feedback in a Virtual Work Environment 

The COVID-19 pandemic gave rise to virtual and hybrid work environments which may be here to stay. As remote employees interact with colleagues and superiors less frequently, the importance of consistent feedback is even more important. A study finds that managers account for 70% or more of variance in employee engagement. Timely feedback is thus especially important to boost the positive role of managers in the workplace. Punctual and consistently recurring feedback serves as a catalyst for improving firm productivity, culture, and results. Let’s dive into some key strategies to consider when striving for timely feedback in a virtual work environment.   

Tactics for Success 

Timely Check-ins: It’s important for managers to set goals for providing feedback on a regular basis. This might mean aiming to have meetings monthly, quarterly, annually, or on whatever schedule is most appropriate. Remote workers should be able to expect timely feedback, whether this means punctual responses to inquiries or a recurring plan for consistent dialogue. With roughly 40% of employees feeling disengaged without regular feedback, a consistent feedback schedule can help motivate employees to reawaken.  

Start with the Positive: Some managers may initially find providing constructive criticism difficult or uncomfortable. Consequently, it may help to utilize early meetings for purely positive feedback. In this way, the manager can build trust with the employees and feel more comfortable discussing larger issues later on. 

Video Calls: The value of face-to-face interaction is tremendous for remote employees. Utilizing video calls for feedback can go a long way toward building strong relationships with those who don’t have as much work interaction. This may also translate to increased feelings of security in sharing problems or challenges that arise.  

Action Plans: The 58% of managers who believe they give enough support compared to the 39% of employees who don’t feel appreciated at work shows that managers need to do more. Managers should not leave employees to address feedback completely alone. Rather, they should help come up with actionable steps to work through so that the feedback is not left hanging. As a result, there is a much greater chance that issues are resolved and productivity increases. 

Two-Way Communication: Feedback is not a one-way street. It’s important to develop a culture of safe sharing and honesty from the employee back to the manager. This can help with productivity, as employees are more willing to ask for help and potential issues can be identified and resolved more quickly. Managers can also ask their employees how often they would like to receive feedback. With 72% of employees under 30 wanting daily or weekly feedback, managers may be surprised at the level of engagement they can bolster. 

Attributes of Good Feedback 

While good feedback looks different depending on the company and the individuals involved, there are certainly common threads. The first aspect of effective feedback is construction within context. Providing background information as to why the feedback is relevant, how the situation was understood, and why it’s important to resolve ultimately helps it become more beneficial. 

An employee who understands the root cause of an issue is far more likely to successfully resolve it. This constructive feedback need not all be criticism, however. It could also be positive in order to reinforce good habits and processes that managers hope will continue. 

Another measure of great feedback is that it’s clear and concise. No feedback can be successful if the recipient doesn’t understand it. Thus, the clearer the feedback is then the more actionable it becomes. Conciseness is equally as important because excessively long-winded feedback can become muddled and confusing. Managers should seek to share the core of their message and reinforce smaller details on a case-by-case basis. 

Finally, feedback should not be delivered with judgmental language. Receiving criticism and sharing insights relies upon feelings of trust and security. The use of judgmental language serves only to embarrass and undermine the effectiveness of the meetings. 

Virtual Work Environment Feedback

Managers will likely tailor their feedback strategies to their own personality and company culture. Effective, feedback relies on proactively considering how best to approach these meetings for employees in virtual and hybrid work environments. By creating a safe space for open conversations, avoiding making assumptions, and showing empathy, managers can turn reviews that are often viewed negatively into positive and productive experiences.

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Contributions from Jake Park-Walters

Tags: Organizational Effectiveness