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Where’s the Love? The #1 Reason Managers Aren’t Providing You Enough Feedback


How many of you are supervisors who wish you were giving more feedback and recognition to your staffs? How many of you are employees who wish you were getting more feedback and recognition from your boss? Whatever side of the question you fall on, manager and employee engagement through feedback and recognition is an essential component to a well-performing office. Feedback and engagement increases productivity and retention of employees. So why are both sides not feeling the love? Let’s count down the top five reasons.

#5 My organization doesn’t support the behavior

Organizations where recognition and employee feedback are not supported or promoted can be a tough place for managers/supervisors. Likely, you are not getting the feedback and recognition that you need to assist you in doing your job better. However, being the smart manger that you are, you recognize the benefit there is to feedback and recognition. How do you get your senior officials on board with the behavior? Think back to the last time you were successful in getting something you needed from those top execs. What did you do? I say go with what worked — maybe it was data, industry research, competitors behavior, etc. You need a positive culture of feedback and recognition just as much as your staff does. Where possible find your own ways of providing feedback and recognition. Informal means are just as effective and formal means if they are viewed as genuine and authentic

#4 No one does it for me

It may be true, no one is helping you, providing you with feedback or recognizing your accomplishments, but that does not diminish the power you have in providing it to others. In fact, as you begin opening yourself up to giving feedback and recognition, you may find that others perceive you as more open to receiving it and they might begin providing it to you. For those that identified with this reason there is sometimes a misunderstood belief that they can provide someone else with motivation or that having a job should be enough. Feedback and recognition is not about providing someone with motivation. It is not a conversation that you “talk to them”. It is dialogue of behavior and words.

#3 I am afraid I am going to leave someone out

This is a real fear especially in organizations where feedback and recognition is scarce. When something is hard to come by people hold on to it and want to keep their time in the spotlight for as long as possible. If is this occurring in your organization it is a red flag that employees aren’t feeling recognized enough and they aren’t receiving the quality of feedback they are needing. Dr. Bob Nelson writes, “leaving employees out does not tend to be a problem in organizations that have developed a strong recognition culture, that have a variety of formal and informal programs and tools, and where managers place an emphasis on daily recognition practices and behaviors.”

#2 I am not sure how to do it well

Well, the good news is that feedback and recognition are a lot like exercise showing up and doing it is much more important than how you look doing it. If you haven’t experienced what it is like to receive quality feedback or genuine recognition it may feel awkward at first and you may doubt yourself as your do it. I encourage you to lean into the discomfort. Find ways that feel good to you and start there. Make it a regular part of your day. Find a colleague, mentor, sponsor, or just another person you admire to seek support and encouragement from as you explore offering feedback and recognition. New managers often struggle with only providing feedback on what an employee needs to be doing better or is failing to do successfully. During the conversation, there is missed opportunity to highlight all the places where the employee may be doing great. This often happens when the feedback and recognition are not provided on a regular basis. The key to effective feedback is that it is timely, specific and sincere.

#1 I don’t have enough time

In our “do more with less” organizations, mangers are wearing many hats. Often supervisors are becoming producers of work rather than managers of people. Providing feedback and recognition has to become your “bigger yes.” Building off the other reasons we’ve discussed, remember times in which you have successfully provided feedback and recognition and do it again, and again, and again. Make it a habit. Find the courage to see something and say something and if you’re away from your staff all the time you can’t make this happen. It’s important for you as a manager to find ways to engage your staff in the work they do to make the office successful. These ways do not need to be elaborate and time consuming, or formal and through a review process. Some of the best forms of recognition tend to have little if any cost (and I’m considering time a cost here). For example, you can provide verbal and written praise both publically and privately, symbolic gestures, honor rolls, awards, etc.

Armed with this knowledge there is no reason why we all can’t engage in a little more love for providing feedback and recognition.

Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

Sabrina Delay is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Profile Photo Sabrina DeLay

Here is my key take away on feedback: Feedback and recognition is not about providing someone with motivation. It is not a conversation that you “talk to them”. It is dialogue of behavior and words.