Starting a new job can be daunting—there are so many names to remember, a different commute, and potentially unfamiliar duties to perform. It’s no surprise then that having a good ‘onboarding’ process to ease new employees into a company can do wonders for the experience of those staff. Get it wrong, and the consequences can be damaging: Glint found that new hires who reported a poor onboarding experience were eight times more likely to be disengaged in their work.

Is employee engagement important? Well, only if your business wants up to 41% higher levels of profitability, attendance, and productivity. Feedback has a major role to play in shaping a new starter’s experience. In fact, there are three areas which giving frequent and early feedback can improve: the employee’s performance, your business and its culture, and thirdly, your own skillset.

How feedback helps new starters

Firstly, feedback helps new starters to understand what they are doing well and what they can improve. When joining a new company, it can be difficult to take in all the information they're expected to and still find the time, and brainpower, to analyse their own performance. If, like most businesses these days, you’re looking for ‘self-starters’, then it’s likely the employee will be making some of their own development decisions, and supporting them with this will speed up their progress.

Giving feedback at an early stage also helps make employees feel valued. They want to know that you are invested in their future with the company and that that you appreciate their contribution early on. It also acts as motivation, giving them clear targets to focus on and knowing what’s expected. The research continues to prove that this will improve employee engagement when a staggering 98% of employees who receive little or no feedback say they are not engaged.

How feedback helps your company

It’s not just the newbies that will appreciate a feedback culture - by establishing feedback as the norm, you stand to improve the ethos of the whole company. If you are honest and transparent from day one, this will be reflected down the line in the values of your business. And because feedback can, and should, be a two-way process, you’ll get valuable insights on your onboarding process and company culture, so you can make the ride even smoother for future recruits and improve systems for existing employees.

How feedback helps you

As a manager or executive, you need to be able to communicate with a vast range of people, from investors to board members and staff to clients. Every opportunity to deliver honest and useful assessments will strengthen your own oratory skills. Learning how to give constructive feedback is a skill that can improve relationships, both professional and personal.

How to give great feedback

So how do you go about delivering feedback effectively? While asking an employee how they’re doing as you stroll past their desk is nice, it doesn’t cut it when it comes to reaping the benefits outlined above. To deliver those, there are some key principles to keep in mind.

The first is to be both positive and constructive whenever possible. Pointing out areas for improvement is obviously important, but recognising things they’ve done well is overlooked and is perhaps more crucial in shaping your staff’s performance. The statistics are staggering: focusing on employees’ strengths makes them 30x more likely to be engaged at work; so make sure each feedback session is a ‘sandwich’ of things done well and ways they can improve.

When delivering feedback of any kind, it pays to be specific as well. Helping your new starter to understand exactly what the feedback relates to improves accountability and lets the two of you consider concrete alternatives that could improve the situation. Instead of a general “you’re too quiet”, you can work through an actionable suggestion like “perhaps reading team meeting agendas beforehand would allow you to contribute more”.

As well as being a specific mix of good and bad, you need to make the process a conversation. Ask your new employee for their experience so far. Feedback should be a chance for both of you to air your views, letting you hear how good or bad a job you’ve been doing as well as giving the new starter a chance to understand, justify, and remedy their own performance issues.

When and where to say it

It’s not always easy to know when is a good time to give feedback or what format would work best. While there’s no right answer, making it a formal part of the joining process at your company will at least ensure it occurs with each and every new employee.

In general, people prefer to get feedback in a private setting, whether it’s good or bad. Managers usually recognise this for criticism but not for praise - 52% of employees would rather receive recognition privately than in front of their team.

Finally, do it more than you’d think. 84% of employees say praise should be given on a continual, year-round basis and research has shown regular feedback can lower turnover rates by nearly 15%. You’re unlikely to overdo it and, if you do, your open and honest culture no doubt means that they’ll tell you!

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