5 Signs Your Managers Aren’t Giving Feedback

Make feedback a winning habit on your team.
Managers giving feedback is essential to a thriving and high performing workplace. It helps employees grow, aligns performance with company goals, and fosters a culture of continuous improvement. However, many managers struggle with providing timely and constructive feedback, leading to painful challenges. Here are five signs that your managers aren’t giving enough quality feedback and how it impacts your organization.

Table of

People Are Surprised at Performance Reviews

Performance reviews should be a summary of ongoing feedback, not a surprise. Ideally the focus of a performance review is a high quality conversation about past and future performance and goals. Managers giving feedback should be a regular occurrence, not a once or twice a year activity. If employees are caught off guard by the feedback they receive during these reviews, it’s a clear indication that regular feedback isn’t happening.

Surprise during performance reviews often comes from insufficient or inconsistent feedback throughout the year. Employees need to know where they stand consistently, not just once or twice a year. The majority of feedback should be informal and focus on achievements (things they should keep doing), areas for improvement (things they should work on), and setting future goals (things the employee wants to work on + things the company needs). When feedback is a regular part of the work culture, performance reviews become a natural progression rather than a dreaded event full of surprises.

Low Performance Issues Stick Around Too Long

When low performance issues persist for longer than they should, it’s a sign that managers are not addressing them effectively or timely with feedback. Unresolved performance problems can lead to decreased productivity, low morale across the board, and a negative impact on the entire team.

Managers may hesitate to confront low performance due to discomfort, lack of skill or fear of damaging relationships. However, avoiding these conversations only makes the problem worse. Addressing low performance with empathy and clear, actionable feedback is better for all involved. This includes the impact on teammates who have to carry the weight of the under performing person. Not addressing low performance can also lead to the resignation of top performers.

You Are Part of the Dreaded Feedback Triangle

The feedback triangle happens when feedback is not given directly to the person who needs it but is relayed through a third party – often the manager or HR. This indirect approach often leads to misunderstandings, confusion, delays and usually the issue doesn’t get resolved as it should.

To eliminate the feedback triangle, encourage a culture where feedback is normalized. Employees should feel comfortable addressing issues with their colleagues directly because they have the skills and expectations to do so. This can be facilitated through training sessions that focus on effective communication and feedback techniques. Role-playing exercises and workshops can help employees practice giving and receiving feedback constructively. Tandem also helps managers address feedback issues directly by providing scripts and templates.

People Don’t Have Clear Expectations for Their Role

Unclear role expectations can lead to confusion, frustration, and poor performance. When employees don’t know what is expected of them, they can’t effectively contribute to the organization’s goals. Managers avoid setting clear expectations because they don’t know how to, think it will feel like micromanagement or assume people know what to do. One of the biggest pitfalls is not resetting expectations when things change. This can lead to employees being overwhelmed by all that is on their plate.

We recommend setting hyper clear role expectations with an iron clad expectation template like the one linked here. Managers should put expectations at the top of their 1:1 documents, reference them during feedback and update them as priorities change.

Top Performers Leave Before You Want Them To

Retaining top performers is crucial for any organization’s success. High turnover rates among top talent can disrupt productivity and lead to a loss of valuable skills and knowledge.

One reason top performers leave is a lack of recognition and appreciation. Managers giving feedback focused on what people are doing well is key to success here. Harvard recommends a 5:1 positive to constructive ratio to get the best performance from teammates. Regularly acknowledging and rewarding good performance is essential. When employees feel valued and recognized, they are more likely to stay motivated and committed to the organization.

Career development opportunities are also vital for retaining top talent. Top performers often seek growth and advancement. Providing training, mentorship, and clear career progression paths can keep them engaged and motivated. Managers should discuss career goals with their employees and create development plans that align with their aspirations.

Putting It All Together

Effective feedback is essential for a productive and positive workplace. When managers fail to provide regular, quality feedback, it leads to many challenges, including surprises during performance reviews, lingering low performance issues, indirect communication, unclear role expectations, and high turnover among top performers.

Investing in managers giving feedback not only benefits individual employees but also enhances the overall success and growth of the organization. Want help getting your managers in the habit of feedback? Tandem can help!