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The Ultimate Guide to Implementing Real-time Feedback in the Organization

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By Preethi Jathanna

Senior Writer for HR and Remote Work

The Ultimate Guide to Implementing Real-time Feedback in the Organization

Real-time feedback is a worthwhile consideration for any company. While it initially involves a more organization and scheduling, it can ultimately produce not just better employee performance and engagement, but also better relationships within a team or department and ultimately create a culture of positive development. 

Forget waiting for a yearly review to address issues. Instead, it’s often more efficient to meet challenges as they arise through the implementation of ongoing evaluation and discussion. Let’s dive in! 

You can also read our article on real-time feedback tools here

1. What Is Real-Time Feedback?

Real-time feedback is a method of performance management that promotes continuous development and dialogue between a manager and their employees. Rather than waiting for annual or mid-year reviews, a department or working unit can engage in regular conversations to more instantaneously fix issues and address challenges.

2. Why Is Real-Time Feedback Important?

2.1. Increases Performance of Employees

There may be KPIs that they aren’t achieving or areas where a member of staff is struggling. By giving feedback in real time, it’s much easier to assert a course correction speedily and effectively. This not only benefits your team but also alerts the individual to a problem they may not even have realized existed.

2.2. Helps in Creating a Culture of Recognition

Not all feedback has to be bad. More frequent evaluations also mean more opportunities to give praise and draw attention to where staff are doing well. Around 39% of employees say they feel underappreciated at work, but this can be remedied with a healthy dose of positive reinforcement.

2.3. Improves Employee Engagement

Performance reviews in general put a spotlight on employee experience, placing a hardworking individual centerstage. Regular attention to their development naturally increases their investment in a role and in a company. Employee engagement has not only been linked to better performance, it also decreases staff turnover and reduces absenteeism.

2.4. Strengthens Leadership Qualities of Employees

Real-time feedback gives managers the chance to recognize and nurture leadership skills in their direct reports. This kind of reinforcement is made much more efficacious through regularity and can also apply to other common soft skills, such as organization and teamwork. 

2.5. Promotes Ongoing Learning and Development

There may be gaps in knowledge or upskilling that a person needs to bridge, in order to reach peak productivity. Real-time feedback means these are always in focus, so that team leaders and employees can develop a program of ongoing learning alongside one another that leads to optimal results for both company and personal goals.

3. What Are the Most Important Metrics to Measure Real-Time Feedback?

You can measure the impact of feedback in many different ways: by goals (is an employee improving on their ability to achieve KPIs?); quality (is the delivery of a good caliber?); engagement (how involved does the individual appear?); and improvement (are they more capable than previously?). These can be calculated on a sliding scale quantitatively or made more qualitative, depending on the prevailing management style at your company.

4. How Do You Implement Real-Time Feedback? 

4.1. Provide the Feedback at the Right Time and Place

How you give feedback directly impacts its efficacy, and the first thing to consider is identifying the right time and place. Often, employees will prefer one-on-one interactions because they feel more personalized and also remove any possibility of embarrassment. At the same time, how you implement feedback will most likely be via an informal setting, such as a breakout room or a small meeting space.

4.2. Communicate the Feedback Directly

Be polite but don’t beat around the bush. Everybody appreciates clear (but polite) communication because it saves time and leaves no room for misunderstanding. It may be helpful to go over the salient points you wish to raise before the feedback session, so as to feel comfortable discussing them with your member of staff.

4.3. Allow Time for Questions and Follow-Up

Real-time feedback should usually involve a mutual interaction. What that means is that managers should allow for discussion and a space for staff to give their opinions and feelings on their workload and work environment. This can often be productive in terms of fostering a collegiate atmosphere and might elucidate the origin of any problems that have arisen.  

4.4. Ask for Feedback in Return

Following on from the last point, as a team leader you should not become complacent about your management style. Ask for feedback from your staff about the way you are handling problems and be open to receiving constructive criticism. Not only will this improve your leadership skills, it will also nurture a feeling of trust within your department.

5. What Is the Best Way to Receive Real-Time Feedback from Employees?

5.1. Implement Employee Surveys

Most feedback tools now incorporate employee surveys as part of their functionality. These performance management features make it so much easier to gather information about concerns, queries and KPIs, saving managers a lot of time assembling the basic data necessary to continuously assess staff.

5.2. Set Up an Employee Suggestion Box

Anonymity is a boon for businesses because it allows for frank comments about the working environment and staff satisfaction. An employee suggestion box bolsters morale, fosters more creative mindset and gives a voice to the more reticent members of your team. Of course, it doesn’t need to be a physical receptacle; today, there are numerous digital platforms that deliver the same functionality.

5.3. Conduct Interviews for Employees Who Stay and Exit

Complement your automated solutions (such as employee surveys and digital suggestion boxes) with a system of regular individual interviews. These can be equally applicable for stalwart staff and exiting employees – each group will provide you with actionable data to improve your workplace.

5.4. Review Different Sites to Learn About Employee Experience

We’ve talked a lot about in-house interactions, but it may also be worth taking some time to see how your company is discussed on review sites like Glassdoor, as well as more generalist brands like Indeed. This can help you benchmark your performance as a company compared to competitors and pinpoint areas for improvement. 

6. Companies With Great Real-Time Feedback Systems

6.1. Goldman Sachs

Banking big boys Goldman Sachs have employed real-time feedback for several years now. Their Feedback360+ platform aims to encourage staff to request reviews from their bosses, so that they can improve their performance in a concrete way that meshes with management expectations. This automated workflow gives staff a more lucid idea of what’s required of them, while managers can simultaneously nurture team productivity.

6.2. Mastercard

Global financial payments company Mastercard embarked on a program to improve employee engagement by increasing real-time feedback. While the starting point was the existing annual staff surveys, this was developed to incorporate a regular series of coaching courses and training sessions, in order to better develop in-house skills.

6.3. LinkedIn

Even the world’s premier professional network can use some help with performance management, it seems. LinkedIn purchased people services solution Glint in 2018 and has since leveraged its capabilities to obtain real-time feedback from employees. Like Mastercard, the foundation was employee surveys, followed up with learning and development opportunities via LinkedIn’s branded skills development platform.

7. 20 Real-Time Feedback Examples

7.1. Employee Disengagement 

Disengaged employees not only don’t give their best performance but are also more likely to leave a company. Address this by pinpointing where the attitude stems from.

Real-time feedback example: “I’ve noticed in the last few weeks that you seem distracted at work. Is there anything in particular that is concerning you?”

7.2. Excellent Employee Performance

As noted at the start of this article, appreciation is one of the core forms of feedback and helps motivate staff.

Real-time feedback example: “Your presentation to the client yesterday was really well executed. Keep up the good work!”

7.3. Missing Deadlines

It’s important not to beat around the bush with feedback, especially with something as serious as repeatedly missing deadlines.

Real-time feedback example: “I’ve noticed you struggled to meet this month’s deadline, and it’s starting to become a pattern of behavior. I think we should discuss methods for how to stay organized.”

7.4. Unable to Reach Goals

Sometimes an employee fails to meet their OKRs because the set goals are unrealistic. In this case, a real-life example of giving feedback might involve mentioning an adjustment of objectives.

Real-time feedback example: “There seems to be a gap between your set goals and the milestones attained so far. I think we should revisit the objectives and ensure they are feasible.” 

7.5. Disrespecting Colleagues

While stamping out rude behavior in the workplace is absolutely essential, it’s important to try and do this without becoming overly personal.

Real-time feedback example: “There have been some complaints regarding certain comments you made in a recent meeting. I’d like to take a moment to just talk through what might have caused offense.”

7.6. Low Self-Esteem

While signs of more serious self-esteem issues should be referred to a healthcare professional, building staff confidence is part of being a good manager. 

Real-time feedback example: “The sales projections you did for that client were really well executed. In light of that, I’d like you to work on this other potential client.” 

7.7. Interfering in Others’ Work

While having a convivial workplace tends to benefit performance, it can become an issue when it distracts from getting the job done.

Real-time feedback example: “I’m really pleased to see that you and John have a positive office relationship, but please try to keep longer personal conversations for breaks or lunchtime.”

7.8. Bad Communication Skills

All managers rely on timely communication from their team in order to stay on top of workflows, so it’s important to make clear your expectations if this is not happening.

Real-time feedback example: “Can you please make sure to keep me in the loop about any issues you encounter with that client, so that I can step in if necessary to make sure we stay on schedule?”

7.9. Poor Time Management Skills

There are lots of time management strategies to help people who struggle with properly allocating their working hours.

Real-time feedback example: “Have you heard of the Eisenhower Matrix? I think it could really help you prioritize your workload according to urgency.”

7.10. Not Following Workplace Rules

Your workplace may have regulations designed to maintain a secure, hygienic, safe space for all employees, but these only work if everyone follows them.

Real-time feedback example: “I notice you often smoke in the car park. It’s really important from a health and safety perspective that you only smoke in the designated areas outside.”

7.11. Less to No Contribution for Team Projects

It can be demoralizing for other employees and an overall hit to team productivity if one person isn’t pulling their weight. This can be addressed by assigning specific tasks to employees.

Real-time feedback example: “I would like you to take over the paid advertising aspect of the overall strategy from Mary. I think it would be a great opportunity for you to showcase your planning skills.”

7.12. Too Many Silly Mistakes

While it’s perfectly understandable for a person to make mistakes, if it happens frequently and involves fairly simple actions, it’s probably down to a lack of attention.

Real-time feedback example: “There seem to be a few errors creeping into your work recently. Why do you think that is?”

7.13. Not Punctual

The purpose of real-time feedback is not to criticize but to correct, so try to focus on solutions where possible.

Real-time feedback example: “It’s really important the team starts work at the same time, so I thought we might spend some time discussing ways to help you manage your morning commute.”

7.14. Frequent Absenteeism

There may be extenuating circumstances for why somebody is often absent. As with other unwanted behaviors, aim to draw out underlying reasons.

Real-time feedback example: “Are there any areas of your life that you’ve been having trouble with of late?”

7.15. Unable to Problem Solve

There are some concerns where the answer is primarily skill development. One of the most frequent real-life examples for giving feedback centers on the ability to problem solve.

Real-time feedback example: “Our company has a learning and development system that offers a digital course in problem solving. I think you’d really benefit from taking it.”

7.16. Reduced Productivity

A decrease in productivity can be the result of many factors. Make sure not to leap to conclusions and consider leading with appreciation to tease out any unknown contributing factors.

Real-time feedback example: “I really appreciate the stellar work you’ve done in the past year, but recently you seem to have experienced a drop in completion rates. I was wondering if there was anything I could do to help?”

7.17. Wasting Time on Personal Calls

Being blunt isn’t usually called for, but in the case of behaviors that are clearly unacceptable in the workplace, it’s important to exhibit a firm attitude.

Real-time feedback example: “We need to talk about the amount of time you spend on personal calls. It’s not really appropriate during office hours.”

7.18. A Toxic Attitude

Toxic attitudes can suck the energy right out of a team. Instead of letting the issue fester, real-time feedback means you can immediately address the elephant in the room.

Real-time feedback example: “I’ve heard from some of the other members of the team that you’re not happy with certain aspects of my managerial style. I think it would be productive if you discussed them with me directly.”

7.19. Lack of Participation in Activities

Some people naturally aren’t as social as others, but it is important to try and make everyone feel part of a cohesive team.

Real-time feedback example: “I’m looking into introducing some new team-bonding activities and was hoping I could get your input on what kind of things you’d enjoy doing?”

7.20. Low Quality of Deliverables

When somebody isn’t delivering the level of quality you expect, it’s necessary to determine whether this is due to a lack of engagement, resources, ability or other factors. 

Real-time feedback example: “The most recent figures aren’t in line with my expectations and I thought together we could identify where the problems are coming in.”

8. FAQs

8.1 Should You Use an App to Give Real-Time Feedback?

Real-time feedback apps take a great deal of the heavy lifting out of the process by providing an easy-to-use framework. There are lots of tried-and-true solutions available on the market today that incorporate this aspect of performance management, including Trakstar and BambooHR.

8.2 What Is Effective Feedback?

Effective feedback is, above all, constructive. Criticisms without solutions are unlikely to achieve anything other than increased disengagement from employees.

8.3 How Do I Get Real Feedback from Employees?

There are many real-time feedback apps and tools available in the market, but sometimes the best way to ensure honest, unfettered discussion is to focus on anonymity and the ability for staff to express their concerns via a feedback portal or platform that can be accessed 24/7.

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