One of the best ways to establish consistent improvement in an organization is by instituting feedback loops. Feedback loops improve productivity by providing staff with a series of small, easily achievable improvement suggestions. Every time an improvement is met, a new improvement suggestion takes its place.
Feedback loops work as follows: First, two employees agree to enter into a feedback loop relationship. Most commonly, a supervisor provides feedback to a direct report, although two peer employees occasionally elect to enter into a peer feedback loop relationship.
Once the relationship is established, the feedback loop process begins. After the direct report completes a task or project, the supervisor evaluates the task, provides positive feedback on performance and suggests one area for improvement. Ideally, this improvement suggestion is specific, actionable and relatively easy to complete.
After the direct report completes the next task, the supervisor evaluates the task, notes whether the improvement was made and suggests another improvement. As the feedback loop continues, tasks get completed faster and with fewer mistakes or misunderstandings. Productivity gradually increases, and both the supervisor and direct report have a record of improvements made and positive steps taken.
When two peers engage in a feedback loop process, they must carefully ensure that they provide useful feedback without becoming punitive or taking on the role of the boss. Peer feedback loop processes are most beneficial when both peers are committed to improving performance and increasing productivity. If you are interested in learning how to set up a feedback loop with a peer-level coworker, read these tips on peer coaching to create positive peer feedback loop relationships.
Employees also use apps and online programs to create feedback loops. For example, the program RescueTime tracks how much time you spend on various websites. Create a feedback loop with RescueTime by evaluating your time report every week and then setting achievable goals for the next week. These goals might include spending less time on Facebook or answering emails and spending more time working directly on assigned projects.
If you are interested in using apps to create feedback loops, Fast Company has a great list of apps to help you get started. Each app is specifically designed to help you achieve better productivity. Once you begin collecting data from the apps, it is easy to isolate small areas for improvement and begin the feedback loop process.
Feedback loops are great ways to improve skills and work towards better productivity. If you are a supervisor, consider instituting a feedback loop process with your direct reports. If you want to take advantage of feedback loops yourself, set up a peer relationship, or use an online app. The key to success with feedback loops is setting clear goals for improvement and slowly working your way towards increased productivity.
(Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net)