Do you give team members enough feedback?

When people join an organisation or transfer to a new team, the ‘settling in’ process includes figuring out where and how they fit in. This is called ‘calibration’. The answer is probably going to be different to a person’s place in their last team. That’s why role clarity and plenty of feedback are extremely important to helping people make smooth transitions. (Chapters 11 and 24 of the text have more information on this.)

Then there are team members who are overly confident about their abilities and knowledge. Known as ‘unskilled and unaware’, their high opinions of their abilities give them the least incentive to learn; they ‘don’t know what they don’t know’, to coin a phrase.

According to research, the least skilled and aware people are the last to work out they need some help. Without feedback and clear measuring posts to calibrate themselves against, they remain blissfully unaware of their performance weaknesses, both relative to others and in absolute terms. Without feedback and measures of success, your unskilled and unaware employees will never realise where they really fit in and what they need to learn to become contributing members of the team.

But just pointing out a person’s weaknesses isn’t’ the answer. You need to help them understand their limitations in a way that indicates your faith they can learn new skills and in a way that motivates them to learn those skills.

Continuous information about peoples’ performance is a driver of success in every enterprise and all the more important with recruits, poor performers and unrealistically and overly confident performers.

Discussion questions

How well do you provide clear success measures and feedback to your team members? What about you? Are you aware of your own weaknesses and are you taking steps to plug the gaps? If not, you might fit into the unskilled and unaware category yourself! How would you compare and contrast over-confidence with the ‘impostor syndrome’ discussed on page 144 of the text?