Anyone who has ever published content on a social media platform is sure to have experienced the dopamine rush that follows a “like” or a “share” for the post.
Humans are naturally hardwired to seek external validation. The validation individuals receive via a “like” for the post motivates them and makes them confident to share their opinions publicly.
This extends to their professional lives too. The salience of such validation is far greater in the workplace. This is because collaboration and mutual encouragement are critical for teamwork and enhance productivity in the workplace.
A recent Gallup study found that millennials expect continuous feedback from their managers in the workplace. The study also found that just holding regular meetings at work doubled employee engagement.
What is continuous performance feedback?
In the traditional performance management approach, feedback in organizations is restricted to quarterly, half-yearly, or annual performance appraisal discussions, leaving the workforce fretting for most of their time about how their managers perceive their performance.
A system of continuous feedback shortens the duration of the feedback loop in the organization. This provides opportunities for more frequent feedback discussions—say every two weeks—on the completion and delivery of every major project.
Impact on organizational performance
Typically, the annual performance review addresses high-level issues and objectives. It does not allow discussions on day-to-day improvements. This leaves the managers and employees feeling disconnected due to mismatched expectations and perceptions.
The annual performance review is a post-facto analysis of performance. The inherent limitation of such a review is that it is merely evaluative and does not provide room for coaching or mentoring. After a half-yearly or an annual review, coaching and mentoring would be slightly unfavorable for the employee and organization.
Therefore, progressive organizations institute a system of ongoing conversations to provide continuous feedback to foster collaboration between managers, employees, and peers.
Here is an example of continuous feedback: Let’s assume that an organization targets a reduction in material wastage on the shop floor by 10%. The organization begins to train the employees and instructs them to take necessary steps in this regard.
A system of continuous feedback then follows this step. Here, the managers provide feedback on what is being done right and what needs to be fixed. Progress cannot be tracked without the system of continuous feedback, and the targeted saving in material consumption will not be achieved.
Let us consider another example of continuous feedback. A firm has to enhance its overall performance. It decides to identify its poorer performers. Later, the managers, through mentoring, coaching, and training, improve the required skill levels of these employees.
Thus, through a system of continuous monitoring and feedback, the overall performance in the workplace improves.
Benefits of continuous feedback
New-age organizations are increasingly moving away from the system of annual performance reviews. Instead, the increased emphasis on regular and periodic reviews, if not instant feedback, is driven by the benefits of continuous feedback.
The system of effective feedback in the workplace helps employees identify their strengths and weaknesses early. It also allows managers to evaluate their work strategies.
The benefits of continuous feedback are many:
Enhanced employee engagement
Continuous constructive feedback increases trust between employees and managers, fosters a culture of collaboration and enhances employee engagement. This system thrives on regular conversations, drives the exchange of ideas, and promotes organization-wide learning and process improvements.
Personal and business growth
This is possibly the greatest benefit of feedback in the workplace. It acts as a mirror that reflects an organization’s strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots. Personal and organizational growth are deeply intertwined.
A system of continuous feedback helps employees improve their performance. This collective overall improvement in performance enhances organizational development and business growth.
Reduced employee turnover
A system of continuous feedback benefits the organization, as continuous conversations enhance employee engagement. This drives a reduction in employee turnover, which in turn helps to retain talent. This saves the organization the time, effort, and costs associated with replacement hiring.
Efficient goal management
Businesses communicate business goals to their employees for efficient alignment of objectives of both the individuals and organization. If one is asked, “What are the advantages of feedback?” the answer would be that it allows organizations to monitor the attainment of their goals closely.
This is undertaken on a real-time and continuous basis. This allows the timely rolling-out of remedial solutions.
Employee recognition and development
Another important benefit of feedback in the workplace is that it enables year-round recognition and appreciation of good work. Employees feel more motivated in an environment where their efforts are recognized and appreciated.
This contributes to the overall organizational efficiency. Additionally, constructive and continuous feedback enables honest self-assessment and incentivizes people to eliminate weaknesses and acquire apt skills.
Elevated overall performance
Every organization has employees with varying skill levels. Continuous feedback helps recognize high performers and encourages them to do even better. Simultaneously, the underperformers, through continuous feedback, can be coached and mentored into enhancing their performance. This helps raise the overall performance of the organization.
A system of continuous feedback is a channel for open dialogue within the organization, helping streamline the two-way communication between managers and employees such that the feedback is specific and unbiased. The open dialogue enables the alignment of goals between the organization and employees and fosters collaboration.
Building a sustainable continuous feedback system is challenging. To ensure the successful implementation of the system, start small, address foreseeable concerns, and overcome internal resistance.