Feedback fatigue? Make frequent feedback work

A 'good' engagement result isn’t just about a higher score and it certainly isn’t about ticking a box

Feedback fatigue? Make frequent feedback work

By John Bradbury, Senior Client Director, Korn ferry

Today’s world is very noisy. Everyone has an opinion and they’re willing to share it on multiple platforms. At the same time, the art of listening is suffering. According to neuroscientist Seth Horowitz, “Listening is a skill that we’re in danger of losing in a world of digital distraction and information overload.”

Organisations are doing their best to listen. In the last five years we have observed an increasingly number of organisations employing pulse surveys and polls, creating opportunities for their workforces to be heard on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis.

The shift from the annual big-bang approach to employee feedback towards pulse surveys and polls has a lot of positives, but more feedback means more data and does not necessarily equates to better feedback. For your organisation’s employee engagement approach to be truly effective, the changes in how you gather feedback must be matched by changing how you plan for it, process it, and respond to it.

Can more feedback actually be a bad thing?
It’s easier than ever to collect feedback from employees – if you really wanted to, you could probably launch a survey right now. Technology has made it simple and cost effective to request feedback more frequently; it’s now easy to pulse check how initiatives and changes are being experienced in real time. However, we also see real risks in this approach if a more frequent feedback approach isn’t properly handled.

Feedback fatigue: Organisations need to be respectful of the time and effort it takes to complete surveys. If employees feel bombarded they may simply provide cursory answers or worse, not respond at all.

Disillusionment: One very common complaint we hear from individuals is that nothing ever changes. There’s a disconnect between providing feedback and experiencing positive change as a result of it.

Overreaction: When analysing feedback, it’s important for leaders to understand where employees are providing consistent signals versus where there are temporary fluctuations in engagement. Pulse surveys might send up red flags prompting an over-reactive response when, in fact, the overall trend is positive.

Read More: Making frequent feedback work

Organisations need to think strategically about how to gather, manage, and respond to regular employee feedback in an organised and structured way. In the work we do with our clients we have identified three focus areas that help make frequent feedback a success:

Get the ‘what’ right: One of the common questions we hear from clients is “what should be measured?” While there’s no one right answer, organisations must consider questions that will provide insights into the aspects of work environments that are most critical to foster high levels of engagement, drive individual and team performance, and support strategic objectives.

Create the cultural context: if the approach to feedback is changing to more frequent surveys, the culture will need to adjust to support this. Ensuring your communication (frequency and method) matches your feedback approach is critical, not only to explain the shift but also to help employees connect their input with positive change.

Connect feedback to the bigger people picture: A ‘good’ engagement result isn’t just about a higher score and it certainly isn’t about ticking a box. It’s about understanding how more frequent feedback data can be integrated into the organisation’s people and business processes. This is where the connection between input and action happens and it’s not only crucial to an effective feedback program, it’s essential for a successful business.

In our new paper, Making Frequent Feedback Work, we look at some of the steps companies can take to successfully embed regular feedback into the organisation, and how to secure the maximum benefit from next-generation employee engagement tools.

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