The impact of clear direction and feedback on employee motivation - Jean Istasse

CEO Clubs Int'l in Romania has several strategic partnerships with the Media, offering the opportunity to all the Members to publish articles, presenting personal opinions.

Below you may read the article from Jean Istasse, CEO of Sodexo
Published on Business Review


The impact of clear direction and feedback on employee motivation


As Ken Blanchard used to say, “feedback is the breakfast of champions”. If offered in a correct manner and proper environment, the feedback has major impact on companies’ performance.  In a performant organization, a CEO is supposed to apply formal and informal feedback regularly and to disseminate this practice among the other managers. I would like to share with you a bit more insight about it.

Boosting motivation of employees has been for years the research object for many psychologists and anthropologists. But leaving aside the well-known theories about motivation (which are very important), I want to focus on a special ingredient of leveraging employee motivation: clear direction and feedback.
Progress is not possible without permanent improvement of skills and knowledge and that’s why managers have a difficult role – to guide employees towards progress. And this activity can be done only through clear goals and feedback.
The way the feedback is offered by managers and received by employees has of course a strong cultural influence. Some cultures are more oriented towards accepting feedback as a normal step in the development process, while others are more reticent perceiving it as a critique. The key for a successful feedback is to create a fair reference for it that would lead to a trustworthy environment so that feedback becomes a normal activity in any team.
Combining clear goals with feedback helps employees to evaluate their performance and continue to learn. It is a main driver for their engagement and motivation, impacting positively their performance.
The results of a research done by Corporate Leadership Council (CLC)  (Managing for High Performance and Retention, 2005), done based on an extensive analysis of data gathered from more than 90,000 employees in 135 organizations from around the world, showed that fair and accurate feedback can boost employee engagement by up to 40% and discretionary effort up to 23.3 %. 
Also, the managerial feedback that is recognizing and rewarding achievement of the employees increases individual performance by up to 4.4%.
The most challenging feedback is the one on poor performance: how to set it up in order to create positive results. The CLC research has evidenced the danger of negative performance feedback. The emphasis on weakness in the employee performance—in the absence of specific, targeted feedback for improvement—will diminish employee engagement and effort, reducing its performance up to 26.8%.
One of the most efficient approaches is to focus on solution: feedback shall be focused on identifying solutions and the discussions shall be conceived so that would lead to an action that can be followed up on. The research has shown that providing solution-oriented feedback by the managers aimed to find solutions to employees’ problems can increase the individual’s performance by up to 23.7%.
Offering and receiving feedback needs to start from very specific behaviors, with no judgments and starting from the premises that each employee is unique. The great managers know how to capitalize on the strengths of their employees and use feedback to challenge each of them to excel in his or her activity.