How to Use Feedback to Boost Performance

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We know that effective feedback is essential for successful high-performing teams. It has the potential to increase engagement, boost productivity and contribute to a healthy company culture. But exactly what kind of impact does feedback have on performance? And how can we use this information to make our feedback really, truly effective? Today, we’re answering these questions with a deep dive into the data around feedback and performance.

How Does Feedback Relate to Performance?

There are a couple of important factors that influence feedback’s ability to affect performance, including the quality of the feedback itself, and who it’s coming from. A recent study published in Strategic Management Journal supports both of these points. 

In the study, high quality feedback was shown to significantly improve performance. In fact, it improved performance by 12.9% more than the useful but less-inspiring feedback that participants were already getting from their managers. But this study came with a twist. Unbeknownst to participants, the high quality feedback was generated through A.I. And when participants learned of this, their performance actually dropped to pre-study levels (1).   

So what can us humans learn from this study? 

1. The more accurate, relevant and specific you can make your feedback, the better. The A.I. feedback worked so well because it was more precise, more accurate, and based on a larger amount of data. It was also more relevant to individual employees because a higher level of customisation was possible.

2. Feedback has a greater impact on performance if the recipient trusts the person who’s providing it. The researchers in the A.I. study were able to attribute the drop in performance to a lack of trust in A.I. feedback. So we can assume that the same feedback delivered by a colleague we have a positive relationship with, and a colleague we have a difficult relationship with, would yield very different results. 

Feedback and Performance: How to Use Feedback to Boost Performance

1. Invest in your Relationships 

The most expertly-crafted feedback in the world might be useless if your relationship with the recipient is strained. So invest time and energy into building strong professional bonds with your people, ones that are based on trust, respect and transparency. 

2. Develop High Quality Feedback

We are not robots. We can’t consume data at the speed of a computer. But we can aim for the best possible feedback that our schedules will allow. High quality feedback is accurate, specific to the recipient, and rooted in data. Our list of feedback Dos and Don’ts provides even more research-backed guidelines that will help point you in the right direction.

3. Focus your Feedback on the Future, not the Past

Another study found that feedback yielded better results when it focused less on dissecting past performance and more on designing future performance. Future focus was the best predictor that participants would accept the feedback and intend to change (2). So while it’s helpful to connect your feedback to specific events, make sure to focus your attention on the recipient’s opportunity for growth and improvement.

4. Commit to Fast Feedback

A report by Gallup tells us that fast feedback, AKA the kind of feedback that's given quickly and frequently, has the most potential to affect performance (3), as it enables teams to make small, real-time adjustments to their work. Combined with the less frequent, data-led feedback mentioned in #2, it can help us bring about real, measurable change on our teams.

Frankli provides teams with intuitive channels for giving, receiving and requesting feedback at all levels of the organisation. Learn more about Frankli.

Frankli provides teams with intuitive channels for giving, receiving and requesting feedback

60-Second Version: Feedback and Performance: How to Use Feedback to Boost Performance

1. Invest in your Relationships. The most expertly-crafted feedback in the world might be useless if your relationship with the recipient is strained. So invest time and energy into building strong professional bonds with your people, ones that are based on trust, respect and transparency. 

2. Develop High Quality Feedback. We can’t consume data at the speed of a computer. But we can aim for the best possible feedback that our schedules will allow. High quality feedback is accurate, specific to the recipient, and rooted in data. Our list of feedback Dos and Don’ts provides even more research-backed guidelines.

3. Focus your Feedback on the Future. Another study found that feedback yielded better results when it focused on designing future performance (2). So while it’s helpful to connect your feedback to specific events, make sure to focus your attention on the recipient’s opportunity for growth and improvement.

4. Commit to Fast Feedback. A report by Gallup tells us that fast feedback, AKA the kind of feedback that's given quickly and frequently, has the most potential to affect performance (3). Combined with the less frequent, data-led feedback mentioned in #2, it can help us bring about real, measurable change on our teams.

Frankli provides teams with intuitive channels for giving, receiving and requesting feedback at all levels of the organisation. Learn more about Frankli.

1. Siliang Tong, Nan Jia, Xueming Luo and Zheng Fang. Strategic Management Journal. The Janus Face of Artificial Intelligence Feedback: Deployment Versus Disclosure Effects on Employee Performance. 2. Jackie Gnepp, Joshua Klayman, Ian O. Williamson and Sema Barlas. The future of feedback: Motivating performance improvement through future-focused feedback. 3. Gallup. How Fast Feedback Fuels Performance.

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