How Real-Time Feedback Can Help Boost Employee Engagement

People love getting actionable information.

I see this all the time at BlackbookHR: When I give the team updates, they don’t just want a high-level overview. They want easy access to the specific data that relates to their work. At a high-growth company like ours, that means insights into our performance, revenue and customers.

As a part of these specifics, I like to give a lot of feedback.

Feedback that’s useful, frequent and in real time improves performance as people connect their own actions with business outcomes. It’s also key to building a strong team that strives for excellence.

Finally, feedback is big part of creating an engaged workforce. When it’s effective, fast and useful, feedback fosters a sense of belonging and shared goals among employees.

Here are some of my favorite tips to provide real-time feedback at your organization.

1. Diversify your channels

Don’t use just one tool to connect, communicate and engage with your employees. It’s too easy to ignore when feedback comes through on just one channel.

We like to meet face to face, but also use Hipchat, PrestoSlack and other tools that can communicate feedback instantly.

2. Break it down

We follow agile project methods here — we break down projects into smaller, manageable tasks and then hold “work in progress” meetings to get a sense of what’s working and what’s not on our projects.

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The focus is targeted, and we get an immediate sense of how things are going and what still needs to be done. These meetings help ensure  productivity and quality remain high, focused and aligned with our greater business goals.

3. Watch for information overload

When providing feedback, I like to focus on “micro-insights” — short, easily understood bits of feedback that focus on the behavior or performance I just observed. It also forces me to think about what I want to convey.

Employees won’t read a four-page email; that’s just not how most people best consume information. A three-minute, face-to-face conversation will be much more memorable and will get better results than any email you send.

4. Encourage two-way feedback

Just because you’re in charge doesn’t mean you can’t improve. Get feedback from your employees about how you can help them.

As a leader, you’re in a position to provide time, a budget, tools or development to people who want to do their job better. The more input they give you about what they need, the more you can help them be productive, engaged and invested in the future of the business.

This level of feedback requires strong connectivity and a dedication to making it constructive. But it pays off — your team will become more responsive, will perform better and will be more engaged. They will make better-informed decisions more quickly to achieve their goals. It takes work, but it’s worth it.

Chris Powell is the CEO of BlackbookHR, a software company on a mission to create more engaged and connected workplaces and communities. He previously served as executive vice president of human resources for Scripps Networks Interactive (HGTV, DIY, Food Network, Cooking Channel, Travel Channel, et al.), as vice president of human resources for the global financial services company ING, and in various corporate HR roles at Marriott International.

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