Regular and constructive feedback is essential to the success of any staff member, as well as to the success of his or her team and the broader organization. When you think of employee feedback, you might think of formal performance reviews conducted at a set date annually or quarterly. But feedback should be provided consistently to help staff learn and grow as effectively and efficiently as possible.
The timing of feedback in an employee’s tenure with a company or team is also important. In general, managers should consider feedback provided when an employee begins his or her responsibilities to be more valuable than feedback provided farther down the road.
Of course, when employees are new to an activity or a responsibility, their level of knowledge and experience on that subject is basically zero. This means they have a relatively clean slate, and trainers have the opportunity to relay preferred information before the workers’ knowledge and experience have a chance to be tainted in less controlled on-the-job experience.
Force of Habit
Once employees gain some experience with a particular task, it’s only natural that they will develop habits and routines and preferred ways of doing things. Any training on alternative methods of performing those same tasks is likely to face pushback because of employees’ habits and preferences. It’s typically more difficult to unlearn the wrong way of doing something than it is to learn how to do it the right way from the start.
Volume of Work
Finally, failing to invest sufficient time and effort into early training means staff may spend months or even years working less efficiently than they otherwise might have; it could also mean they spend time doing things wrong altogether. What company wouldn’t want to capture months or years of additional productivity?
You certainly can “teach an old dog new tricks,” and it’s recommended that managers and training teams continue to train staff throughout their time with the organization. But managers and trainers should also understand there is generally a greater return on investment when providing training early than when asking staff to unlearn old habits.