Giving and receiving feedback is an essential practice in any business but becomes an insufficient effort if you’re not creating systems of continuous feedback. Employees need to clearly understand their contributions to business goals and ensure they are aligning themselves for their desired career opportunities and growth. This is where creating systems of continuous feedback helps everyone get into the habit of sharing regular constructive feedback with managers and peers in a structured manner.
Implementing systems of continuous feedback will support the organization’s productivity, boost employee retention, encourage learning and development, boost trust, and help create a positive culture in the workplace. As such, this article covers everything you need to know about creating systems of continuous feedback, including some valuable best practices.
- What is a continuous feedback loop?
- Why is continuous feedback important?
- Best practices for creating systems of continuous feedback
What is a continuous feedback loop?
A continuous feedback loop is a set process or system that supports management in gathering thoughts, opinions, and suggestions from employees in a structured and regular manner. This could be through organized meetings or conversations—either in a group setting or one-on-one between an employee and their manager—or between employees and their peers. Management then uses the data gathered from their continuous systems of feedback to analyze productivity levels, engagement, work satisfaction, and work quality. Ultimately, a feedback loop encourages continuous learning because managers are able to check in with how employees are feeling at a given time and generate insights on what may need to change.
Create a system of continuous feedback
A healthy and strong culture starts with feedback. Fellow enables your team to share real-time feedback on meetings, projects, and performance.
Why is continuous feedback important?
- Boosts productivity
- Increases engagement
- Encourages learning and growth
- Fosters trust
- Improves employee retention
Continuous feedback loops boost productivity, which makes them important to any organization. Productivity is boosted through creating more open lines of communication and more frequent conversations between employees, management, and the executive team. More check-ins with the workforce mean that people are more clear on their tasks and feel more motivated to complete their responsibilities, knowing they are supported by these frequent and structured conversations.
Creating systems of continuous feedback also help increase employee engagement. Implementing a continuous feedback model or system means that different kinds of check-ins and conversations will need to be developed to assess different areas of employee sentiments, such as tracking employee engagement through metrics like professional development, personal fulfillment, satisfaction with responsibilities, and expectations of the role. As you track employee engagement, you simultaneously increase it by using the data to make necessary changes and encourage more engagement through employee feedback.
3Encourages learning and growth
Continuous feedback means that your employees are consistently acquiring input on their work, including what is going well, what could use some work, and what kinds of opportunities they may be interested in pursuing. As such, employees are not only being held accountable but are also being encouraged to follow through on their interests. This builds a level of comfort with employees, who will feel more at ease to voice where they think they need a bit more support or guidance or initiate conversations about training or courses they’re interested in.
Creating systems of continuous feedback also builds trust between employees and their peers and with employees and management. Because the entire workforce knows that the feedback is in place to best support each person, along with their personal and professional goals, this creates an environment of trust and more autonomy. In episode 113 of our Supermanagers podcast, Bilal Aijazi, CEO and co-founder of Polly, shares:
“Because that level of trust of knowing that the organization not just has your back but has things locked down better than you could have ever done, with like, you know, the 20% of your attention that you can get on any single task as a founder. It’s really empowering.”
5Improves employee retention
Continuous feedback also improves employee retention because stronger relationships support less turnover and bring more cases of employees wanting to remain with the company, since they know they are supported. This retention also helps reduce the costs associated with recruitment and hiring and creates more opportunities for employees to advance in their careers. When there is good management in place and employees trust and feel supported by their leader, employees are more likely to feel loyal to the organization and stay.
Best practices for creating systems of continuous feedback
- Set recurring feedback meetings
- Use technology to your advantage
- Be transparent about the benefits of continuous feedback
- Conduct 360 feedback reviews
- Set clear goals and expectations
- Make feedback anonymous
1Set recurring feedback meetings
You need to set recurring feedback meetings in a structured manner if you want to create effective systems of continuous feedback. These meetings—whether they’re weekly, bi-weekly or monthly—can include an entire team or department, or you can also implement feedback into weekly or bi-weekly one-on-one meetings. In these meetings, employees can bring up any questions they may have, discuss team issues, work to solve roadblocks or challenges they’re experiencing, and also check in on the progress of their to-do lists or priorities. These recurring meetings will ensure everyone feels aligned and prepared to tackle their responsibilities.
2Use technology to your advantage
It’s essential to leverage technology wherever possible in today’s corporate environment. Bilal Aijazi echoes this as he discusses how technology supported his journey founding his company on the Supermanagers podcast:
“[…] some of the key systems that we put in place pretty early on, you know, we’ve always had the ability to set things on recurrence and automation.”
Without leveraging technology, systems of feedback become too much upkeep and manual work and therefore, are not sustainable long term. To make the process easier, use a tool like Fellow, which allows you to ask for and receive feedback through the user-friendly app or through Slack. Another alternative could be to make a QR code linked to a feedback form, and then share the results in your team meeting agenda.
It’s essential that you make it clear to employees why you’re fostering a culture of continuous feedback. Make it known that this continuous feedback will help you support and guide them in their careers so that ultimately, they feel more satisfied and motivated in their positions. Be transparent by keeping employees up to date and in the know about the data that is being collected, which metrics are looking healthy, and which metrics could use a little bit of improvement. Be sure to gather suggestions from employees on how to improve certain metrics and include them in the decision-making process.
3Be transparent about the benefits of continuous feedback
4Conduct 360 feedback reviews
360 feedback reviews include the feedback from an employee’s subordinates, peers, colleagues, and manager—along with a self-evaluation by the employee—to create an amalgamated view of the employee from several perspectives, thus eliminating bias. Organizing 360 feedback reviews can be a little tedious. The asker needs to remember whom to ask, what to ask, and then determine a way to analyze the results. When you’re doing this for one direct report, it’s manageable. But if you need to repeat the process multiple times, it can be frustrating and easy to make mistakes. To make the process more efficient, send out your feedback requests in one batch with Fellow’s compact 360 feedback tool and gather all the responses in one place.
5Set clear goals and expectations
Be sure to set clear goals and expectations for individual and team goals. This will help ensure that the organization is on track to achieving its desired results and ensuring the success of each person. In the same great Supermanagers episode with Bilal Aijazi, he shares how having systems of feedback in place supported his team in successfully achieving its goals:
“[…] having really great systems of feedback was a prerequisite to ensure that we were able to scale as a remote company and have those relationships that are so critical to getting work done in an early stage startup where you’re constantly dealing with fires.”
Fellow makes it easy to create new objectives, specify key results, track progress, and update contributors. Each team member can create their own private or public OKRs or create team-wide objectives.
6Make feedback anonymous
Making feedback anonymous in one or some of your systems of feedback is extremely effective because it makes employees feel safe, and as a result, people may be more honest with sharing feedback that would be difficult to discuss in person. When your team feels comfortable to give these genuine remarks or suggestions, the organization benefits because management is able to implement the necessary changes. Use a tool like Fellow which enables employees to provide anonymous feedback, so they feel comfortable and safe providing helpful insights to leadership.
Creating systems of continuous feedback is an ongoing process that promotes better productivity, engagement, retention rates, and stronger working relationships between employees and management as well as between employees and their peers. Implementing continuous feedback involves employees in the decision-making taking place, thus empowering and supporting them in their positions; this leads to a positive workplace environment and culture that drives better alignment and higher satisfaction for everyone. Creating systems of continuous feedback is a valuable (and ongoing) learning opportunity for the organization, where management can use the data and insights gathered from employees to make positive changes in the way things are done.