CHAPTER 2: PREPARING YOUR ORGANIZATION FOR REAL-TIME FEEDBACK
How can you implement an effective real-time feedback system?
Understand your firm’s current feedback culture
Do an honest review of the role feedback has played in your organization. This will provide a roadmap of what an RTF system can do for you and what incentivization and training will be required to encourage adoption.
- Questions to start you off:
- Are your partners or managers already giving feedback?
- Are they comfortable providing constructive feedback?
- Do they know how to provide constructive feedback in real time?
- How are mistakes viewed at your organization? Are they opportunities for growth or a big problem?
- How does your organization view feedback? Is it seen as coaching or telling someone they’re bad at your job?
Help your people understand why RTF is worth their time
- Adopting new processes that seem like more work can be a tough sell. Take the time to explain the benefits and returns to your organization as a whole, and to people in specific roles. (See “What are the benefits of real-time feedback in the workplace?” in Part 1 of this guide.)
- Communicate to managers that this work not only fine-tunes performance, but saves them time and effort in the long-run. For the people providing feedback, it may seem like they’re going to have all these requests they didn’t have before. But RTF should be a quick and easy way to help employees discover early on where they are excelling or lacking, and it will save them work on annual evaluations.
- Give managers tangible evidence that feedback is helping. Show your managers how an employee’s behavior or work quality has improved after getting feedback. Adding a hidden scoring system to feedback can quantify how an employee improves throughout the year.
Help your team get comfortable with the system before launch
In the upcoming section, “What are the best practices for giving feedback?”, you’ll find references and recommendations for providing effective feedback in the RTF system. These are great resources for training your people on how to give specific and constructive feedback. In addition to training, consider involving your people in the process of designing the feedback workflow and triggers. It can help ensure that you end up with a system that is easy for everyone to use and adopt.
- The people providing feedback are typically in managerial roles at your organization. Your employees will be best served receiving feedback from someone with seniority and respect, who has been overseeing their work, knows what the firm expects, and can guide them to success. Peers will occasionally have good insight, but they are often in the same boat and don’t know what management expects.
- Work with your managers and employees to decide the frequency of feedback and when feedback recommendations should be triggered. This helps ensure that everyone is comfortable with the process before launching it. The system designer can consider where the users need guidance and set up the system to make it easy and effective for everyone, and then train people accordingly.
- Consider piloting the system with a small group first, with enthusiastic evaluators who are willing and ready to be mentors. The RTF process will be easier if managers volunteer and are not mandated to use the system.
- Once the system is up and running, gather people’s feedback on it and continue to adjust to make it work for you. The RTF software will guide them towards effective and appropriate feedback requests, but setting custom criteria can make the system tighter and better (e.g., setting specific billing thresholds for different types of work, setting rules about which roles can ask for feedback from other roles).
Incentivize and encourage your people to use RTF
Here are some suggestions and best practices we’ve learned when it comes to establishing an RTF system and encouraging adoption.
- Maintain awareness, especially in the first year
- A kick-off event, to celebrate and educate
- “Feedback Fridays” or similar themes to promote usage
- RTF branded supplies such as pens, webcam covers, coasters, notepads
- Signs and notices on internal sites
- Direct reminders from admins on top of automated system reminders
- Leadership steps in if individuals are not completing it correctly
- Public recognition
- Top users are recognized by posters or in meetings
- Sharing pieces of positive feedback
- Team meetings or department meetings on RTF
- High-ranking and respected individuals drive the initiative, but also the right champions at every level (senior leadership, managers, associates, and staff) who promote RTF to their peers
- A champion who considers both sides of the evaluator-employee relationship and follows up with them accordingly to encourage them to continue to use RTF
- Participation rewards
- Tiered prizes
- Gift cards
- Days off
- Special events
- Lunch with the CEO or a partner
- Education and training
- Courses and resources on giving and receiving feedback
- See resources in next section