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The 4 biggest barriers stopping employees giving great feedback to their colleagues
Blog //07-08-2023

The 4 biggest barriers stopping employees giving great feedback to their colleagues

by Hamzah Hafesji, Interim Group Product Manager

If you read our previous blog you know how important giving feedback is; in order to get a full picture of performance, help with goal setting and development, and to reduce bias in the review process. So now the question is, how can you encourage more people in your organisation to give feedback?

At OneAdvanced, our performance management team has done a lot of research into finding out how people give feedback. The process isn’t as simple as it sounds; it’s a journey, from deciding to give feedback to actually hitting send, there are a multitude of steps that a person must take, and if one of those steps proves too difficult they may decide not to give feedback at all. 

To figure out how to get employees to the finish line when giving feedback, we first need to identify the obstacles that might be preventing someone from giving the feedback that could help their co-workers with their performance. By addressing these barriers up front, we can pave the way for more effective and constructive conversations.  The two main factors our team found that impede the giving of feedback were; time constraints and articulation difficulties. This can be broken down as follows:

Disruption to workflow

How many applications do you open in a day? 10? 20? 30? More? Research by PEGA shows us that most office workers switch between 35 applications, over 1,100 times every day! This number has been getting bigger and bigger over the years.

When a person has to stop what they are doing to go and open up a new app / website in order to give a piece of feedback it breaks their flow of work. For this to become an integrated action in their everyday work life, giving feedback should be as easy as sending an email or dropping an instant message, part of the workflow, rather than an obstacle against it.   

Not knowing what to write

We’ve all been there, looking at a blank page, knowing in our head exactly what we want to say, but struggling to find the right words to express it. This can be amplified when giving feedback, after all getting the wording of feedback right, especially of constructive feedback, can be the difference between it being well received or not. You don’t want to come off as too critical, but you don’t want to sound patronising either.

For some people this may seem like an enormous task. They could end up sitting for a long while, writing, deleting and rewriting feedback, and if they still feel it doesn’t sound right, or it’s taking too long, they may just give up altogether. This means their colleagues lose out on the knowledge they could have gained from this feedback.

A language barrier

In the UK alone there are nearly 4 million non-native workers; we can’t expect all of them to be fully confident in their written English skills, but this doesn’t make their feedback any less valuable. It might be that someone knows exactly what they want to say, in their native language, but they struggle to translate these thoughts into the commonly spoken language of their organisation.      

Learning differences

Another barrier for some people is having a learning differences, such as dyslexia, that could make writing feedback slower and more difficult. They may worry they will be viewed in a negative way due to mistakes, or someone won’t fully understand what they are trying to say. More than six million adults in the UK have dyslexia, meaning a good percentage of your workforce is likely to be effected.   

Knowing some of the main barriers that prevent your employees from giving feedback means you can start to think about solutions to break these down; and make giving feedback quicker and easier for everyone!

One thing every organisation can do is run some internal training around best practice for giving feedback. Check our blog, 4 top tips on giving great feedback, for some tips for your people on how to take their feedback giving to the next level.

Fostering a strong feedback culture in your workplace is key, you can’t just expect your people to just start giving feedback one day, this is a behaviour that will become habit over time. By actively encouraging all staff to give feedback every week you will gradually normalise the giving and receiving of feedback across your organisation, and after a while people will no longer need to be reminded, it will become a natural part of their working lives.  

You can also look to provide your people with a continuous performance management platform, like OneAdvanced's Performance & Talent, which would allow them to open their feedback platform from Microsoft Teams with just one click, and give and receive real-time feedback to anyone in their organisation in minutes.

Performance & Talent has some new features to break down communication barriers, starting with the introduction of Voice Notes. The Voice Notes feature allows employees who aren’t confident in their written skills, to verbally record their feedback and upload the recording instead of a written comment. This can also make the feedback process quicker, as people often speak faster than they type, and overcomes the worry some people may have that their words will be taken in the wrong way, as tone is much clearer when spoken.

We are also excited to be bringing AI to Performance & Talent, which will allow employees to input their thoughts and get back a fleshed out and well worded piece of feedback. We hope this will make a big difference for those people who know what they want to say, but struggle to find the words or the time to put together a great piece of feedback.

Get in touch with a member of our team today to start building a strong feedback culture at your organisation, and help your people get the feedback they need to set goals and develop at work. 

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Hamzah Hafesji

Hamzah Hafesji


Interim Group Product Manager

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