Clear Steps to Implement an Effective Feedback Loop
It is strange that the unpleasant sound produced by electrical equipment can be borrowed to describe how well someone is performing a task!
Yet, that is exactly what “feedback” initially meant. The noise that indicates that a particular set up of electrical components is not optimal.
However, it does provide a clue to the original nature of feedback, and what it is meant to accomplish in any system – even a system of human minds collectively working towards a goal.
Managers who received feedback on their strengths showed 8.9% greater profitability
In its most effective HR form, feedback should be more of a diagnosis than a report card. It needs to assess what is working and what is not working for an individual in the context of a well-defined, desired outcome so that positive steps can be taken for more substantial progress.
Giving feedback is the art of taking note of all the “sounds” that indicate room for improvement in a set up and delivering insights for adjustments in a way that drives action, rather than triggering despair or anxiety.
So, Are We Doing Feedback Right?
77% of HR executives believe that performance reviews or annual appraisals are not an accurate representation of how much effort employees put into their tasks.
This number, though a lone statistic, already sets the tone for the answer to the question.
Human Resource can do feedback better!
And there is a very strong case to be made for diving deep into more empathetic yet objective feedback provisions.
Research shows that the behaviour of peers in a group has more impact on the productivity of team members than monetary incentives. And feedback is an important part of making talent feel appreciated, noticed and fully invested in cultivating relationships with co-workers for a better company culture.
Even critical feedback (also referred to as “negative” feedback) works to motivate employees – when delivered with positive reinforcement and suggestions to do better.
The Future of Feedback in HR: Enter the Feedback Loop
Let us tap science again for the definition of a feedback loop.
It is the process of taking into account a portion (or all) of a system’s output to constantly adjust future operations.
The best example of a feedback loop we all can appreciate is the HVAC system. The thermostat takes the temperature of the room and based on the reading it modifies the settings for heating or cooling.
This is done to ensure two things – the comfort of people in the room (together with the convenience of not having to fiddle with temperature constantly) and literal savings in the form of economical use of fuel.
There is a point to this discussion!
An employee feedback loop works the same way.
It takes the output of multiple sensors (people) within a system (team) and uses it to extract objective insights about the performance of an employee to boost productivity and performance.
So, what is different about a feedback loop?
A feedback loop works better than a one-on-one performance evaluation because it takes away the pressure of providing robust and objective guidance from the shoulders of struggling managers and spreads it uniformly across the organization.
Managers account for 70% of variance in employee engagement
This is important because a study by Gallup proves that the biggest factor influencing employee engagement at work (and thus the productivity of the business) is how managers recognize the efforts of team members, offer counsel, and timely nudges for better performance.
The Components of a Feedback Loop & How to Build an Effective System for Your Business:
A feedback loop is not an effective feedback loop without the following qualities.
1] It must be objective
Feedback that is coloured by the pre-conceived notions of a person or impacted by power play actually works to undermine employee morale. Talent will not take action on the steps outlined, unless the insights can be relied on as being fair and inclusive for the individual who is receiving it. This is where the concept of 360 feedback comes into play.
360 feedback involves soliciting feedback from both managers as well as peers to remove gender bias, the halo effect and confirmation biases. In short, the diversity of opinions comes together to reveal reliable and objective performance patterns that can be leveraged for real growth.
2] It must be continuous
A loop can’t be broken or disrupted. It is a loop by virtue of being cyclic. A feedback loop that rewires employees into trusting the quality of counsel being offered is one that works in the background and is consistently at play throughout the year, giving the sense of capturing the complete picture of the arc of talent’s annual performance.
3] It must be balanced
According to deep research into the next frontier of success for agile companies by Deloitte, a sense of belonging, fairness and respect, safety and openness and a focus on empowerment are key components of company culture that can catapult a business to hyper profitability.
A feedback loop needs to facilitate the building of each pillar. It must allow for employees to request and submit feedback, even if it is out of turn, so that they can be proactive about their own improvement and be empowered to do better within the company.
It should anonymize certain aspects of the feedback collection process to encourage honest sharing of insights, but at the same time there needs to transparency around the process so that trust in the output is embedded in the talent receiving the results.
By making the sharing of feedback a two-way street, loops strengthen a sense of belonging and mutual respect between managers and team members.
It is easy to get onboard with the idea of a feedback loop. But what does it take to actually implement one?
Here are 5 clear steps to roll out a feedback loop in your organization
1] Identify Pain Points
Every project starts with the need to research. Based on the structure of your organization, the demographic of the employees in the company, and the responsibilities of the positions they fill, the feedback loop will focus on bringing clarity to different areas of competence – spanning everything from technical know-how to soft skills.
For example, if a business is focused on pushing innovative products to the market on tight schedules, the feedback loop may probe abilities like stress management, out-of-the-box thinking and even productivity awareness. The important thing is to go off of values and competencies that are relevant to the team or the company as a whole.
2] Frame Non-Judgmental Scale-Based Questions
In a classic feedback loop, employees evaluate themselves and are also evaluated by their managers and peers. To simplify execution 90% of questions should be scale based and framed in a way that they can be processed and answered by all segments being solicited for feedback. This allows for quick giving and collection of inputs and makes it easy to crunch the numbers for reporting.
10% of questions can be subjective. Word clouds and response sentiment analysis turn paragraphs of text into bite sized nuggets of wisdom talent will appreciate taking action on.
3] Choose a Platform that Respects Balance
The system you’re using to implement the feedback loop should come with features that respect the tenets of balance already discussed.
For example, a solution like CakeHR comes with 360 Feedback for objectivity, Goals and OKRs to contextualize the feedback, Quick Feedback to encourage empowering and spontaneous soliciting of inputs and 1-on-1 Meetings for proper integration.
4] Get Buy-In
But not how you think.
Numbers show that more than half the employees in a company feel fulfilled when they receive feedback. So, the intention behind a loop is always welcome. But explicit data about performance can put cherished work practices on the stand and throw role fit into question. Thus the buy-in is required during roll-out.
There needs to be clear channels of dialogue between employees and the HR department as talent gets used to being in the loop. Start off with a presentation positioning the feedback loop as a tool to improve, and not a way to get fired.
5] Offer Integration
The final phase of an effective feedback loop is integration. Integration is the process of taking the output of the feedback loop and making the suggestions for improvement a part of daily routine.
Businesses have the option of providing employees 1-on-1 sessions with managers and/or coaches to spark the transformation. Self-paced access to relevant courses on a Learning Management System is an alternative.
It sounds like a lot of work.
And the initial preparation may seem overwhelming. However some of the most successful companies in the world – most notably Microsoft – have employee feedback loops in place.
Think of it this way. Customer feedback is the foundation of the front end of your business! So why not transfer that philosophy to the back-end and to your biggest operational expense – your talent?
CakeHR is an award-winning HR software company that provides attendance, performance and recruitment management for customers worldwide. More information at www.cake.hr