The Right Feedback Can Boost Employee Retention

Among the many skills a CEO or business owner should possess is the ability to provide constructive, meaningful feedback. Employees at every level of an organisation want to do the best job possible, a goal that can’t be fully achieved without input from those in charge.

Providing the right type of feedback, within the context of job expectations and responsibilities, not only dramatically improves an individual’s work performance, but helps build trusting relationships and a willingness to excel—crucial elements in job satisfaction and enduring employee retention.

Millennial employees, for example, “thrive on feedback,” particular when it’s offered frequently and in a proactive, constructive way. It’s important to them that their supervisors feel they’re doing a good job and they’re open to critiques that enable them to grow in their jobs.

Here are tips to keep in mind as you hone your feedback skills:

It’s up to you to make it work. No one enjoys hearing about all the ways in which their job performance falls short. Therefore, as Workoplis notes, it’s up to the person providing feedback to “recognise the challenges of the conversation, and help the employee get what they need” out of the interaction. If, when the conversation ends, the employee leaves “without any gained knowledge or insight, that’s your mistake, not theirs.”

Determine what you want to achieve. Preparing before undertaking a “feedback conversation” can significantly increase the chances of success. This preparation should focus on feedback that can directly influence the outcome you desire on the employee’s part.

Make sure you enter into the conversation armed with specific feedback. Use language the other person will understand and find relevant. This way, your feedback is likely to have the desired effect.

Offer objective feedback. One of the issues associated with feedback in the workplace is that a leader’s preconceptions or emotions can get tangled up with what he or she wants to get across. A different approach, known as “pure feedback,” seeks to eliminate any inherent bias in the conversation.

Pure feedback is the “descriptive, non-judgmental delivery of objective, verifiable information,” says Business2Community. This type of feedback addresses behavior or performance in a “just the facts” manner, enabling “the receiver to process personal feelings that come from judgment or evaluation,” rather than getting stuck on what seems like a derogatory view from the person offering the feedback.

Make it a conversation, not a monologue. Feedback is more readily absorbed if the recipient doesn’t feel like he or she is being subjected to a monologue or sermon. During the conversation, invite the employee to share their thoughts or reactions, and to raise any operational issues they’re experiencing that might contribute to an unsatisfactory performance. This approach makes the experience feel more collaborative and less punitive.

Forget the “feedback sandwich.” For a long time, it was believed that “sandwiching” the critique of an individual’s performance between “slices” of praise was an effective feedback approach. More recently, leadership experts like Alicia Cohn contend that this approach is “a cop-out designed to make the feedback-giver feel more comfortable rather than to enlighten the feedback receiver.”

Instead, work on offering praise on an ongoing basis—not just during a quarterly feedback conversation. This makes it far easier to set aside part of that conversation for a look at where performance is falling short, coupled with concrete advice on how to improve the situation.

Want to learn more about offering feedback that contributes to employee retention? Register to listen to a free webinar offered by Marty O’Neill of TAB Baltimore/Washington on “Grooming Engaged, Entrepreneurial Employees.”

 

5 Tips for Monitoring Your Competitor’s Marketing Strategy

No matter how unique their product or service, every business has a competitor (or more than one). This is probably a good thing because it means no CEO or business owner can become complacent or believe there’s no threat to his or her company’s well-being.

Competitors are a fact of life. The trick, in terms of crafting your company’s marketing message, is knowing what the “other guy” is saying and how well their message is being received by the target audience.

Here are five tips for staying on top of your competitor’s marketing strategy:

1. Monitor changes in their website. Just as your business has put a great deal of time, energy and resources into building a customer-friendly website, so the competition has also worked hard to craft a high-functioning business website. When was the last time you looked close at the competitor’s web pages, scrutinising the look and feel of the site, its content and images, and so on? Try viewing their site through a customer’s eyes. See how well you can navigate from home page to purchase page (and everywhere in between). After taking this “tour,” make a point to stop by every couple of months and see if they have added new functions or changed their design. Watch for any changes, subtle or otherwise, in their key marketing points.

2. Track their activity on social media. Presuming your business has a vibrant social media presence, it’s safe to assume the competition reaches out to followers on several platforms as well. Which platforms do they favor—Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.? What does their business profile look like? Does it appear to convey a more compelling or emotional message than your own profile page? There’s nothing wrong with choosing to “Like” or “Follow” your competitor on social media. This way you can keep track of any special offers or announcements they share with their customers, as well as any big changes in their marketing approach.

3. Analyse the content they offer. Whether it’s blog posts, podcasts, customer testimonial videos or webinars, the content your competitor offers to customers and prospects might be coming across more effectively than your own. Generally speaking, it’s possible to determine how widely an article or case study is shared among followers, which will give you a better idea of what type of content your customers value most. (It can also spark your own creative impulses to come up with value-added topics.)

4.  Set up a Google Alert. This is an easy way to monitor how often your competition is mentioned online. Type in a handful of industry-relevant keywords in the Google Alert (including the name of your own business) and regularly check on who’s talking about competitors and why. This may be quite valuable in assessing how well the other guy’s marketing message is performing in the eternal hunt for new customers.

5. Look at competitors through a customer’s eyes. Marketing expert Jim Joseph suggests engaging in “shopping trips to try out your competitors’ customer experience, both online and in-store.” Study and analyse their approach to customer service, along with the quality and variety of their products and services, and how they are “sourced, merchandised and priced.” This will tell you a lot about their marketing efforts—and where they may be cutting into your customer acquisition efforts as well.

The information you gain from monitoring the competition shouldn’t just be compiled and left on a shelf. Use this research to pinpoint any areas of deficiency in your own marketing efforts and make changes as necessary. Look for new ways to attract prospects through social media and upgrades in your website. Do everything possible to make your own customers’ buying experience as unique as possible. See how well you can leave the competition in the dust.

Want to learn more about marketing and competitive research? Want to achieve marketing and management excellence? Listen to this free recording  http://info.thealternativeboard.com/strategic-marketing-and-management