“Don’t just criticize, condemn or complain, give a constructive feedback instead”- Dale Carnegie
Continuous Feedback is defined as a mechanism or a process where an employee receives ongoing feedback and is guided in a systematic manner by openly discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the employee.
Human capital is an asset to any organization, and this asset should be taken care of. Thus, organizations need a mechanism where the employees are made aware of the things they are doing really well and also the scope of improvement to be able to perform their tasks well.
For example, let us consider hypothetically you run an organization which has ten thousand employees working in different geographic areas. Let’s consider you take the cognizance to fly down to the different locations and give employees the feedback you wish to give them, but this is just a one time action. What next?
The motive of feedback is, it should be continuous. Therefore, it is essential for organizations to make continuous feedback a regular practice. Feedback is a cyclic process and not a linear process. The cycle makes sure that the content is absorbed, implemented and repeated.
This process is not only restricted to the corporate world but is also highly appreciated in the field of sports. Athletes are open to the continuous feedback mechanism, and why not? Each time they are on the field it is a new challenge for them, but they do remember the previous challenges they have faced and the winning tactics that they applied. Thus continuous feedback in sports is quite evident.
Learn more: Top 20 Employee Engagement Survey Questions
The continuous feedback model is also known as the Deming wheel, as it was developed by renowned management consultant Dr. Edwards Deming in the 1950s. The model is based on four attributes:
1. Plan: You need to identify and understand where the problem lies even before you plan to give a feedback to the employees. Your feedback must be based on facts and statistics and not on your memory of the past experiences you might have had with the employee(s). You must first explore information, define your feedback, generate ideas to deliver the feedback and them implement the feedback.
2. Do: Once you have identified, the strengths and weaknesses of the employees, it’s time to first check the system with a small-scale pilot project, before you implement the system in the entire organization. This will allow you to assess whether your proposed changes have achieved the desired outcome, with minimum disruption.
3. Check: At this stage, you analyze the results of the pilot project against the expectations that you have defined. If the expectations are in tandem with the reality, then it’s time to implement the plan. Move to the final phase of implementation only when you are completely satisfied with the results.
4. Act: This is the stage where you implement the process, remember this is a continuous process, a loop, and not a linear process with a beginning and an end. This means your improved process now becomes a stepping stone to keep improving the process for your employees at equal intervals.
According to a study carried out by Forbes, nearly 75% of employees consider feedback important, but less than one third receive it. This is the era of technology and change is the only constant here. Human resources and the way they have been operating for the last decade has witnessed a 360-degree change.
This change has been implemented because employees are no longer interested in the annual reviews, they want continuous feedback and they want it now. Therefore, organizations needed to change the whole system of how and when employees receive their feedback. In this technology-driven world, organizations have to be attentive to place a greater focus on process and program designed to not only attract talent but also retain them. Employee attrition has been an issue, organizations have dealt with for a long time. Continuous feedback is the answer to increased employee engagement.
Let us look at this mechanism from an employee’s perspective. Imagine you are wearing a fitness device and your device gives you your step count at the end of the year and not daily. You would have no reasons to make any changes to your diet plan or exercise routine and the results that you are willing to obtain will be a far-flung dream.
It’s no surprise employees feel the need for timely feedback and due recognition. It is an attribute, a requirement for them to perform better at work. They see this as an opportunity to take their career in the right direction. Rolling out a continuous feedback performance management program allows organizations to give employees what they really want so that employees can leverage from the ongoing feedback.
Here are the actions that HR leaders across the globe are taking to implement continuous feedback performance management:
1. Don’t make it a scary process: It’s simple science, a human brain is hypersensitive to anything it thinks is a threat. In organizations where employees are scared of admitting their mistakes, this only leads to a culture of doubt. No organization would want to promote a culture where leadership doesn’t trust their employees or vice versa.
To avoid this, don’t make the feedback process a scary one. This is not an opportunity to point out mistakes, take confessions from employees about why they couldn’t achieve their targets, rather, it is a process to help both, employees and the organization to improve. Keep it simple and keep it subtle.
2. Give feedback more often: An overwhelming majority of employees want feedback from their managers, but only a handful of them actually receive it. It is essential for managers to provide effective and timely feedback on employee performance. Continuous short cycles of feedback can revitalize a workforce and thus will be imbibed into the system eventually. Many organization is successfully changing their annual reviews to a continuous feedback process. With this process, managers can help employees improve at work and also help them carve a path for their long-term goals.
3. Remove any bias from feedback: Holding any bias based on gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or even past experiences with an employee(s) can hamper the flow of a helpful feedback. Managers who rely on their memory to conduct reviews instead of tracking actual progress of employees is considered a bias. To remove any bias from a feedback the, process should be based on facts, statistics and relevant attributes.
4. Managers should be coaches: Managers cannot be successful in helping their employees improve if they don’t have that on their mind. Just like a coach cannot help an athlete win every battle on the field if success is not his/her mind. It is essential for managers to think like coaches do. Feedback is a common denominator between manager and employees. It gives managers the capability to coach their employees to perform better at their job. When managers learn how to give feedback in real-time, it becomes easier for employees to implement it.
Feedback can come from multiple supervisors or managers, which leaves a room for miscommunication. When an organization institutes a culture of continuous feedback, it is essential for everyone is on the same page. Continuous feedback is a dialogue, this means not only the organization get to give a feedback to the employees but employees can also give a feedback to the organization. This helps in identifying potential problems and generating a quick response to it. The following are the benefits of continuous feedback:
1. Helps create a healthy workplace culture: It is important that the employees are willing to discuss their strengths and weaknesses on a regular basis. This facilitates a culture of continuous learning and development within the organization. Using continuous feedback will help employees excel in the workplace.
2. Helps employees and organization set better goals: Organizations that set quarterly goals tend to generate 30-35% better results than organizations who set annual review goals. Feedback to employees and vice versa helps set achievable goals.
3. Boosts morale: Providing the abilities to your employees to give feedback not only boosts their morale, they feel a personal responsibility towards the organization. When employees feel heard they feel confident that their feedback is being implemented.
4. Appreciation from clients: Continuous feedback should not be restricted to only internal improvement, but clients and customers should also be allowed to give a continuous feedback so that the organization keeps improving. If there are any changes in the systems or processes that affect the clients directly, a feedback can be taken from them before implementing those changes.
Learn more: Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)
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