Imagine being at a restaurant and not getting the kind of service you want from your waiter.
What if your table had a meter—visible to the waiter—that showed the amount of tip you plan to leave based on your experience thus far.
You can adjust the meter downward the moment you begin to feel dissatisfied. The waiter then has a chance to regain your satisfaction and earn a higher tip.
That’s real-time feedback. Local, simple, continuous.
The talent management world is embracing a real-time approach, particularly when it comes to employee engagement and performance data. The annual engagement survey and performance review meeting are old school.
Today, organizations are experimenting with a new generation of easy-to-use tools that take the pulse of their employees with short, engaging surveys. This same technology also lets managers give quick feedback on specific aspects of an employee’s performance they’ve just witnessed.
For leader development, these real-time feedback technologies need to go one step further.
They need to enable individuals to seek out quick, targeted feedback on their own.
Leaders can then ask targeted questions in the moment like:
- Did I keep us on track in that meeting?
- How could I have made that presentation more engaging?
- Thanks for letting me know you felt listened to during our discussion. What one thing should I keep doing to continue having that kind of impact?
Such user-driven tools are beginning to appear in the marketplace, and organizations are also creating their own for internal use.
Here’s how they can benefit both leaders and their employees:
- Users can ask for feedback from anyone via open-ended questions. Knowing that most of us aren’t experts at crafting good questions, the tools provide quick access to sample topics and queries.
- Decisions about responder anonymity and data confidentiality are up to the user. These options acknowledge that different contexts call for different feedback processes.
- In addition to providing feedback, these tools allow users to set development goals and track their progress. By linking the feedback tool with actions taken to improve performance, users are more likely to continue seeking feedback and acting on it in the future.
Even with these technology-enabled tools, useful real-time feedback depends on the willingness of others to give honest feedback and the willingness of the recipient to address it.
That means real-time acknowledgment of the value of the input, real-time efforts to change problematic behaviors, and real-time follow-up conversations about performance.
User-driven tools for soliciting input on performance won’t simplify all the complex feedback dynamics in the workplace. But they do hold promise as another way we can weave the giving and receiving of feedback into our daily work.