Managers: Use Social Media Techniques to Make Feedback more Relevant

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Social media. The vast majority of us use it on a regular basis.  In fact, 69% of adults and 81% of teens use social media, according to the Pew Research Center.

We use social media because it gives us something.  We get a feeling of belonging when thirty people love the beach photo we post on Facebook.  We feel knowledgeable when we read about trending topics on LinkedIn. At parties, we can even sound “pinteresting.”

Social media platforms stimulate our brains in ways previous generations never dreamed. The “feedback” people receive from social media platforms physically taps into the brain’s reward center due to its frequent and unpredictable nature.

Social media feedback draws parallels to delivering relevant feedback in the business world.  To best motivate and empower employees, managers should consider three major principles.

Managers, Be Unpredictable When Giving Feedback

One of the ways social media captivates us is due to its unpredictable nature.  Every time we refresh the screen, we see current information tailored to us.  “When the outcome is unpredictable, the behavior is more likely to repeat,” says psychologist Jacqueline Sperling, PhD. “Think of a slot machine: if game players knew they never were going to get money by playing the game, then they never would play.  The idea of a potential reward keeps the machines in use.  The same goes for social media sites…. The unknown outcome and possibility of a desired outcome can keep users engaged with the sites,” she says.

It may work well for managers to regularly schedule performance reviews, and these reviews have a place, but there is power in an unsolicited compliment, especially if it is specific. Sincere, unexpected feedback keeps an employee on his or her toes and motivated to work for more.

Also, unpredictable feedback is timelier. Even if corrective, it is far more effective if delivered right away rather than at a monthly review.

Managers, Employees “Like” Frequent Feedback

Partly due to social media comments and likes, today’s employees are addicted to the high of frequent feedback. Within a minute of posting something on a social platform, a person may receive multiple likes and comments.  The “high” we get from this connection is grounded in physical proof: “It (social media) provides immediate rewards in the form of a dopamine release (the happy hormone) every time you post or get a notification from the app. This constant barrage of shallow rewards rewires your brain to want more of what caused that dopamine release, which leads to social media addiction,” says Majid Fotuhi of Neurogrow.

How often should managers give feedback, so it still sounds sincere?  According to the Center for Generational Kinetics, 65% of Gen Z employees prefer getting feedback at least once a week.  While this may be too often for many managers, once a month plus some unpredictable feedback is a good place to start.

Managers should keep in mind that feedback can come in multiple forms: customers can be solicited via surveys or focus groups; data can be used to give more objective feedback; and feedback can come from more than one leader or peer. The means by which feedback is delivered can be in person, by text, by email, or by phone.

Regular feedback, even if constructive, can build employee relationships and reduce workplace turnover.

Managers, Consider FOMO to Give Feedback Evenly

 When implementing these suggestions, it is good to have an awareness of evenly distributing feedback among employees.  This ties to another social media phenomenon called FOMO (fear of missing out).  Missing out on feedback can create anxiety for other employees.

In the social media world, people are constantly making comparisons. “When reviewing others’ social activity, people tend to make comparisons such as, ‘Did I get as many likes as someone else?,’ or ‘Why didn’t this person like my post, but this other person did?’” says Dr. Spearling.

Making an effort to give feedback evenly amongst coworkers can help eliminate a culture of fear and jealousy.  Employees should always know where they stand so there is never shock when receiving feedback.

Artemis Consultants is a recruiting firm that believes in the value of relevant communication.  With the mainstream use of social media, companies need to stay current on how to best motivate and retain employees.

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