Hot or Not? Feedback is Critical to Improving Performance

Joe Collins

Ever play the “Hot or Cold” game as a child? “You’re cold! You’re getting warmer! Now you’re Hot!” Even children know that good feedback improves results. It’s important to be told how we’re doing. Without knowing if we were hot or cold, those games would have gone on for ever. Without feedback, you could be getting further and further from your goal to and never know it until you fail, any achievements would be down to pure luck.

It is pretty well accepted that effective feedback improves performance. We need to know in a timely manner how we’re doing, what’s working, and what’s not. Traditional feedback mechanisms like annual HR reviews, project reports, business unit KPIs, don’t really tell us how we are performing day to day, where our strengths and weaknesses lie. They are retrospective and based on narrow criteria.

You would have to wonder if there is a better way to tap into how we are personally performing in a real-world sense, every day and how this affects our goals. In other words, ongoing feedback that you can trust and act upon to improve performance. Turns out there is, and it’s based on Artificial Intelligence (AI).

AI systems are now being developed to tap into our behaviours, perspectives and communications. IBMs Watson has a tone analyser that uses linguistic analysis to detect and interpret emotions, social tendencies, and language style cues found in text or speech. It can be applied to emails, customer service messaging and many other scenarios. Microsoft and Google have similar offerings.

These services can provide feedback how innovative we are, identifying when we are stressed or how effective we are at working with colleagues. When this type of information is available to specialist development coaches such as the 110% Personal Accelerators, it can be used to highlight goals for personal development. Insights from AI can be a benchmark for continuous improvement based in real world interactions. For example, it can literally tell if your creativity is hot or cold (or getting warmer).

The feedback from AI is not limited to individuals. It gets interesting when aggregated across groups of people or organisations. We can get feedback into how open, collaborative or innovative an entire company is. It is feedback on the cultural pulse that drives behaviours both individually and collectively. The often-quoted Management Guru Peter Drucker once said that ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner’. Being able to view personal feedback through the prism of corporate culture gives are real insight into how well we are doing and what is working well. If a member of staff lacks innovation in a company where risk taking or blue sky thinking is not fostered, then looking to the person to improve would be missing the point.

Perhaps the takeaway is this, when effective feedback is designed into a performance management program, individual and organisational performance will improve. This will make for happier staff a more effective organisation. AI based systems can deliver rich and effective feedback so that employees won’t be working blind and hopefully with the help of the organisation, will reach their destinations successfully. That’s hot.

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