Communication and Feedback Defines Motivational Climate
By Dawn Robson
Effective and meaningful communication and feedback is important for fostering employee engagement and a healthy workplace and should be top of mind for all leaders and managers.
It is important that all members of your team have a good understanding of what is happening within the business. This starts with establishing a shared understanding of the vision, mission, values and goals of your organization. Even if these elements are not well-documented and posted you probably have a good idea of what you stand for and want to accomplish. This information needs to be shared with your team on a regular and ongoing basis as their buy-in to your organization’s vision and goals is critical if you want them to understand where the company is going and pull in the same direction. If people understand the bigger picture (and ideally, it aligns with what is intrinsically important to them), they will be more motivated to work towards the achievement of these goals.
Sharing organizational information and work priorities can happen in a number of ways. Many organizations will schedule meetings to both communicate with and field questions from staff. These meetings are often in-person but technology and online meeting systems enable coworkers from different geographic locations to actively participate in meetings and hear news first-hand. Many organizations are getting used to accommodating different times zones and, if not, some online systems allow for meetings to be recorded. The frequency of meetings varies depending on their purpose — and can range from an annual “all-hands” meeting to discuss strategy and year-end results, to a monthly departmental meeting focused on special projects, business challenges or inter-company relations, to a weekly “standup” meeting to discuss work tasks and connectivity, and to a daily meeting to connect with new staff and support them with the upcoming tasks.
If people understand the company direction and the ground rules associated within the business, they are in a better position to be successful in their role. And if the position responsibilities and work environment meets their needs, they will be more inclined to support both the team and the organization. As they endeavor to complete their projects and tasks, communication and feedback will help to reinforce or correct behavior so that everyone is aligned.
Most people appreciate feedback on performance. Individual motivation can be enhanced through that understanding of alignment and the recognition by your co-workers or your manager that your efforts have made a difference.
Performance reviews are often used to document work contributions and the attainment or challenges with defined goals and behaviours. They are also used to establish a shared understanding of the upcoming projects and responsibilities. This should be a two-way communication process, where the employee is able to provide their input on accomplishments and challenges and the manager is able to review and provide their feedback to the employee.
Formal recognition programs have been developed by some organizations to provide both peer to peer, and manager to employee feedback. Online apps have been used successfully, as well as recognition in front of peers.
Positive reinforcement may take the form of an exciting project, a promotion, a monetary reward or the opportunity to get some professional development. If the feedback is more corrective in nature, it is important to remember that this should be delivered in private and in a professional manner. Frank communication may highlight a training issue or a misalignment in skills or fit, and the shared understanding can help to create a resolution for this type of situation.
Communication and feedback are vital components of leadership. They can help to create a strong motivational climate where everyone is focused on the same mandate – and this just makes good business sense.