The Feedback Loop
When we see a job has been well done, it’s natural to offer feedback to the person responsible. But a simple expression of appreciation has limited value on its own.
Feedback is often given and received with thanks, and while it will brighten someone’s day, it is won’t have really significant benefit beyond that.
If no-one knows what you’re doing, they might think you’re doing nothing at all. That’s where the feedback loop comes in.
Feedback as a tool
Feedback can be used by leaders to let people know what’s being done and who is doing it well. Leaders can use feedback to champion their team and demonstrate its value to people at all levels of the organisation.
For feedback to have this kind of impact, it needs to be known about and talked about. This happens when it is deliberately, purposefully talked about across teams and organisations.
Feedback forms a loop around the organisation, with everyone, on every level, hearing it.
The first level of the loop: a job well done
A job is well done, and this is noticed. The job might be a one-off exceptional effort, or simply consistent good work over time.
The second level of the loop: the 1:1
Feedback is given to the person who did the job, by their direct leader in a 1:1.
The third level of the loop: the team
The leader lets team members know about the job well done, shining a spotlight on their exceptional effort or consistent work.
The fourth level of the loop: peers
The leader makes sure that their colleagues at peer level know.
The fifth level of the loop
The leader tells senior managers. They may remember the feedback and use it to help them make decisions. They may personally congratulate the person or team behind the work. Both the giver and receiver of the feedback get a boost.
The loop continues
Feedback comes back to the 1:1 via senior managers, peers and leader. The person who did the job well knows that their leader has taken the time to let everyone know, inspiring them to do well again.
The effects of the feedback loop
The feedback loop builds relationships and strengthens teams. Individuals feel valued and leaders throughout the organisation know who is especially good at doing what. Rather than being a fleeting moment, feedback gains momentum and has a long-lasting impact.
Feedback can translate individual and team performance into impact. Leaders can use it to promote their team without overindulging in self promotion (which everyone sees through).
The feedback loop isn’t quick, and should be used with judgement, when something has been done that really warrants it. There’s nothing wrong with offering quick, off-the-cuff feedback, but sometimes, a more thoughtful, purpose-driven approach is needed.
When working with leaders to help them become better connected, there are four principal domains in which we work. Each one of these is – quite naturally – connected to the others.
Four domains that may, at first glance, appear to be independent, but in fact influence one another profoundly. Push here and something happens over there. They are the component parts of a unified whole.
We live in the age of disruption,where apparently left-field, unexpected solutions to problems we thought we had licked can creep up on big, established market leaders, to become noisy, irritating challengers.
To the outmanoeuvred, to the sluggish establishment, the struggle is knowing how to be different and how to change. It’s as if the innovators rewrote the rules of their sector and didn’t tell anyone. It’s like their upstart competitors really did uncover the secrets of alchemy or worked out how to speed up evolution.