Feedback: The breakfast of championsInsights

Feedback: The breakfast of champions

5 min read, by Louise Brace

The breakfast of champions

Leadership expert Ken Blanchard coined the phrase, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” It’s pretty spot-on, as without a regular serving of feedback your organisation and employees are likely to starve of productivity and innovation.

Sadly, many higher level managers have little or no idea of what is going on a few rungs down the organisational ladder: the progress of ongoing projects, team engagement and happiness in general is lost to them. This is a major oversight. Continuous feedback leads to continuous improvement, both on an individual and global level. It’s key if we want to encourage productivity and breed creativity and innovation amongst employees.

While it may seem like an added responsibility for line managers, it actually makes their job easier in the long run. The ongoing evaluation of teams and individuals helps to improve the skills of the employee, establish better goals and measure key team metrics, which can be used to give more accurate feedback during performance appraisals and annual engagement surveys. What’s more feedback, whether positive or negative is always better delivered in the moment.

"Ongoing evaluation of teams and individuals helps to improve the skills of the employee, establish better goals and measure key team metrics. Essentially, today’s forward-thinking organisations no longer believe that the employee appraisal is wholly about the performance of the individual. Networked organisations understand that feedback and appraisals are a two-way street in which both team player and organisation must make an equal effort to achieve great results."

When people love what they do, they are not only more productive and motivated to innovate better products and services, they also act as the best ambassadors for our brand. So doesn’t it make sense that we populate our organisations with passionate, happy and productive workers?

How do we seek and curate continuous feedback without appearing meddlesome?

First of all we need to redefine employee engagement. What does it mean to your organisation if your staff are happy and motivated in their work? This is the question every organisation should be asking right now. And what changes need to be made to make it happen?

Companies are taking a thoroughly more holistic approach when it comes to employee engagement. It has become a major part of the overall business strategy and through successful, continuous feedback, work environments are changing for the better.

Analysing and understanding employee feedback

There are various types of indicators we can introduce to get feedback and measure engagement and it makes sense to combine various monitors that will allow us to collect feedback from the top down, bottom up and in particular peer-to-peer.

To understand feedback, you need to first understand what impacts and drives employee engagement. Top level factors such as recognition, clarity, trust, flexibility, change, pride, belief, relationships, are all core pillars in how an employee perceives their satisfaction or happiness at any given time during their career.

They will likely ask themselves questions, such as, “Is my work recognized enough? Does my manager trust me to do the best I can? Has the objective been presented to me with sufficient clarity? How will this change affect me? Do they believe in my skills?

Often the most honest feedback is given peer-to-peer and can teach us more about our team’s engagement levels than we could ever hope to get from top down feedback and appraisals. It matters to employees how our coworkers perceive us. We spend more time with them, we have deeper and more personal relationships and we appreciate that their feedback is first-hand, rather than based on part assumption and part curation of information over a series of weeks or months of overseeing a team.

Mo allows for real-time peer-to-peer feedback. Employees recognise the work of their peers based on employee behavioural traits, which are translated into core values. These values should demonstrate the values of the team and will be ultimately aligned with organisational culture. The values you use to reward employees must be good indicator of environment and the desired components of the environment are values we want to drive.

Annual staff engagement questionnaires will focus on factors, such as stress, pay, leadership effectiveness, communication and team relationships. Continuous feedback systems such as Mo allow organisations to explore the behaviour of employees at a much deeper level and build engagement based on real-time data. We can now monitor what drives engagement on a daily basis and adapt our core business and HR strategies in accordance with feedback.

Mo's Luke Fisher explains, “We collect data with our recognition tool and allow companies to identify which values and behaviours are being recognised across different departments or locations. It’s a really nice way for HR and people leaders to gain insight on how well lived their organisational values are.”

There are other methods of stimulating continuous feedback. Simple, yet effective exercises such as the Happiness Door, where employees stick a post-it note on the office door, wall or window to offer their feedback and level of happiness around a specific project or topic.

And in collaborative work environments and agile teams, coworkers are put in pairs to work together on a specific part of a project, this method is called pair programming. One half of the pair will lead the work and the other will learn and support. The pair then swap roles and give feedback to each and the team based on what they learnt from each other.

Regular surveys can also be carried out gauging the satisfaction of teams on an ad-hoc basis or during a project implementation. These are typically carried out by HR who look to standardise feedback response. Surveys can help to get employees used to the process of continuous feedback, but standard responses rarely elicit precise feedback.

Systems like Mo make it easier for all involved – peers, managers and HR, to give, receive and analyse feedback, and work towards the continuous improvement of the organisation as a whole.