Chapter
2

What is real-time feedback? (and why you should use it)

5
min read

Humi’s definition of real-time feedback:

Real-time feedback is a modern approach to performance management and development that focuses on continuous development, not evaluation. Managers capture micro-moments of employee behaviour and coach them based on observations. Expectations or goals are then set to actualize feedback, in place of traditional performance reviews, to see how the employee has grown.

Compared to traditional performance reviews, real-time feedback drives high performance through flexibility, accuracy, and consistent engagement. Engagement will lead to a more self-aware and productive employee base, as they’re able to effectively monitor and adjust their behavior as needed. According to a survey by Towers Watson, which advises clients on human resources related matters, 95% of highly engaged Canadian employees believe they have the necessary tools to achieve exceptional performance, compared to only 20% of disengaged employees.

As coaching and development is one of the core tenets of real-time feedback, the goal of the manager is to help their employees become motivated and more satisfied with their job and career. Let’s take a deeper look at the advantages.

1. It’s frequent and consistent.

When an employee receives frequent and consistent feedback, they are more likely to adapt and grow. A lump sum of feedback at the end of each quarter (or year) is nearly useless to an employee, especially when the feedback is specific to an event or project from weeks prior. Real-time feedback offers a unique ability to test and iterate in order to determine the format, sequence, timing, and outcomes of continuous conversations.

2. It’s accurate.

During traditional performance reviews, managers typically have a recency bias that tunnels their evaluation period to the past few days and weeks, instead of looking at the entire evaluation period (and undoubtedly leading to misevaluation).

3. It increases engagement.

Real-time feedback is a key ingredient for engagement. A performance management system driven by real-time feedback creates better ties between managers and employees (more feedback = more engaged). When “let’s develop you” becomes the sentiment of the day, employees are happier and more committed.

Recency bias is a common distorting effect within systems of performance appraisal. It refers to the appraiser assessing employee performance, not on work undertaken across the full performance management cycle, but only on recent events or activities that can be readily recalled. (Oxford Reference)

“HR today sits smack-dab in the middle of the most compelling competitive battleground in business, where companies deploy and fight over that most valuable of resources—workforce talent.” Matthew D. Breitfelder

Real-time feedback motivates employees

Many of you may be familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:

Maslow's hierarchy of needs graph

Effective, real-time feedback, catalyzes the highest levels of the hierarchy of needs when a meaningful relationship is created between employee and manager. Instead of looking at the past, real-time feedback draws on present behaviours, looks forward and promotes a coaching culture that will help employees achieve one’s full potential and a feeling of accomplishment. Furthermore, the frequency of feedback creates a more engaging process that encourages belongingness.

“Through exhaustive analysis of diaries kept by knowledge workers, we discovered the progress principle: Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work. And the more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run. Whether they are trying to solve a major scientific mystery or simply produce a high-quality product or service, everyday progress—even a small win—can make all the difference in how they feel and perform.” – Teresa Amabile & Steven J. Kramer from Harvard Business Review

Exercise: your favourite teacher

Stop and think about the best teachers you've had. Pause for a moment and identify one or two and then ask yourself:

  • What type of learning environment did they create?
  • How much space and freedom of thought did you have?
  • What were the expectations of your performance?
  • In what ways were you utilized?
  • How would you have grown without their method of feedback and coaching?
  • How did you actually perform as a result?
  • Thinking about them, how does it make you feel?

The best teachers don’t hide anything from their students. They are given the course syllabus that outlines expectations and how the students will be measured. Tests, quizzes, papers, and other assignments are graded and given feedback in an effort to improve performance on subsequent tasks during the course of the semester or year. The best teachers demand the best work and hold everyone to the same standard of performance, all while creating both pressure and comfort in the environment. The clear, concise and constant coaching provided by the best teachers is the same type of feedback we want to see in the professional world.