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How to develop powerful feedback loops within your organization

8th December 2020 Print

When you run a business, it’s easy to become disillusioned. You become blinded by biases and other mental heuristics, while unknowingly blocking out information that could be valuable in your approach to managing and leading your team. And one of the solutions is to become better at gathering feedback, interpreting the results, and making proactive decisions based on these insights.

What is a Feedback Loop?

It’s easy to hear the term “feedback loop” and roll your eyes. It sounds like another fancy term that executives use to sound important. But in reality, it’s an effective tool that has the ability to transform your business from the inside out.

“A feedback loop is the process of using employee or customer feedback to improve company processes or products and services,” explains. “At its core, a feedback loop is when the outputs of a system are used as inputs. In other words, any feedback your company receives can be applied to create some type of improvement, whether to internal processes and structure or to the products and services that the company offers.”

Feedback loops are effective for a variety of reasons. They can lead to better company culture, higher workplace satisfaction, superior customer service, increased productivity, better innovation, and an array of related benefits. But they don’t emerge out of thin air. You have to be intentional about architecting your own.

4 Tips for Powerful Feedback Loops

There’s no singular approach to creating feedback loops. The what and how is highly dependent on your own goals and needs. Having said that, the following tips may prove helpful:

1. Set Proper Expectations

Your team needs to know that you prioritize feedback and want to hear from them. Otherwise, they might assume they’re expected to keep their mouths shut. (You’d be surprised how many times this is the case.) 

Set proper expectations by letting employees know that you want them to speak up, offer insights, make suggestions, etc. Then give them specific avenues for doing so. This is the foundation of any good feedback loop. 

2. Prioritize Efficiency

Your feedback loop should be as efficient as possible. This means removing as much friction as you can in order to give employees every chance to contribute valuable insights. In light of this, here are a few suggestions:

- Stop with the excessive meetings. You’re crowding your employees’ calendars and preventing them from being able to perform real work. You’re prioritizing planning over execution, which is a recipe for inaction. If you absolutely must meet to discuss something, try a morning huddle and set strict parameters to keep things short and focused.

- Use more efficient modes of communication. Text messaging, for example, is a great way to send out employee survey links and gather targeted feedback from individuals within the company. You’ll get a much higher response rate than with email, which employees find noisy.

3. Solicit Information

There’s something to be said for collecting information and feedback that employees voluntarily provide, but you can’t count on your team speaking up. Sometimes you have to solicit information.

Indeed recommends using surveys to maintain an understanding of your employees’ experience.

“When sending out surveys, use non-judgemental, scale-based questions for 90% of the survey,” they advise. “By asking employees to rate on a scale how they feel, you can better identify trends among your team. For the remaining 10% of the survey, provide open-ended questions where you ask them to go more in-depth about their experiences.”

When combined with unsolicited feedback, surveys like this give you a more complete view of what’s happening inside your organization on the ground floor. 

4. Analyze and Act

It’s not enough to gather information and understand what’s happening. You ultimately have to put these insights into action

As your feedback loop kicks into high gear, you’ll start to get more information and insights. Rather than become overwhelmed and paralyzed, focus on taking small steps and studying the results. This step-by-step process will eventually lead to significant change within your organization.

Adding it All Up

The most important part of developing feedback loops is to be open to change. The first feedback loop you create won’t be the last. You’ll need to analyze what works, get rid of what doesn’t, and keep pressing on to greatness.