Introducing Rapid Feedback

What if there was a way to dramatically and quickly improve individual performance? Whether it be school, work, or play, rapid feedback is a concept that seems foreign in organizations. I thrive off feedback, it makes sense to me. Why do something wrong or poorly longer than needed? Give feedback, reset my course, and set me loose — only pulling back when improvement is needed. Though time-consuming, the ability to deliver consistent and constant feedback will improve employee as well as the organization. The best part is the science proves it!

A study from the University of Alberta had participants notified that they would be taking a test, and randomly assigned a several days afterwards in which they would receive feedback. Participants who told they would receive feedback quickly performed better on the test. This would suggest that feedback drives performance as there was a prominent threat of disappointment.

Funny enough — the prospect of feedback is enough to improve performance. You don’t even need to deliver it to see tangible results. The same study saw half of a control group find out they would receive feedback directly after a presentation while the other half wouldn’t. Surprisingly enough, or not depending on intuitive you are, the group which promised immediate feedback performed better. Wow, I wonder if this could be used in an organization?

Now — the possibility of feedback is enough to drive performance so real feedback will (presumably) foster it even more. This spurns the question — what’s cutoff time between action and feedback? Where is the sweet spot of delivery. At what point does feedback lose effectiveness because of a delay in delivery. It would look more like a graph with diminishing returns as oppose to a drop-dead time frame. So the onus is on the manager to deliver it as quick as possible but after the fact, it’s on the employee.

The ability to use the feedback is a skill on its own, especially in a rapid sense. How can there be a system of accountability that makes sure feedback is used? How about a peer-to-peer feedback system. This would see managers deliver the job-specific information, like you’re not selling enough, while fellow employees will deliver more topical advice, mainly ones on the personal level. The second piece is important because it will do two things. One — allow for feedback on personal issues that managers are not aware of, and two — increase accountability of employing the received feedback.

Rapid? Check. Feedback? Check.

Now go make good things happen.

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