What are feedback systems? How are they used? When, where, and how should you use them? And just why are they so important?
Whether it’s a simple verbal agreement or a complex ‘combine PDF’ strategy, look no further than this handy guide for answers to all your burning questions!
What Are Feedback Systems?
In short, feedback systems do what they say on the tin; they enable a business to receive feedback on various aspects, from customer satisfaction to employee performance. They can take many forms, for example:
1. Feedback on a specific launch or product:
If your business has just launched a new product or service, you can gather feedback specifically on how successful that has been for the company. This can take the form of a customer survey or perhaps a round-robin to ask your employees how they feel it went and anything that could be improved upon for next time. This type of feedback also utilizes both quantitative and qualitative techniques. Data analysis can gauge its success in numbers, supported by business analysis techniques such as brainstorming or process modeling.
2. Customer feedback about their experience or purchase.
This is a more general type of feedback about the customer’s experience of your business as a whole. This can be in the form of a survey or questionnaire and gathers information about their journey from start to finish rather than asking about a specific product or service.
3. Internal feedback – what employees think about their job and what managers think of their employees.
This type of feedback takes place internally, i.e not including customers or external stakeholders. This is purely about the employees’ experience at the company and their performance as workers. For the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing on internal feedback systems and how you can use them to optimize team growth.
How are Employee Feedback Systems Used?
Employee feedback systems are used primarily to help managers gauge factors such as employee engagement and team performance. Employers can then use this information to make changes within the business, such as by re-training employees on certain aspects and identifying weaknesses in the company process.
However, it’s also a two-way street; this is a chance for employees to give their own feedback on aspects such as their job satisfaction and personal goals. This can lead to changes such as increased manager-subordinate communication, improvements in employee working conditions, and additional support for employees where required.
Most importantly, it’s about working with all members of your team to establish goals and targets for the future. It’s about constant improvement, not just of the business’s success but also of employee happiness.
Sometimes we forget that our employees are the most vital stakeholders we have and that we should look after them just as much as we would external clients.
When and Where Should You Use Feedback Systems?
In order to maximize your feedback system’s usefulness, you need to be strategic with when and where you implement them.
Nobody wants to be bombarded with constant questions and requests for feedback, so if you don’t want your employees to get sick of it you’ll need to do it tactically. Nor do they want to fill out a huge questionnaire once a year. The key here is keeping feedback constructive and purposeful.
Here’s a quick-fire list of the best times to gather employee feedback:
- Beginning of the year. Set goals for your staff and give them an opportunity to set targets for you in return.
- Before a new project. Establish expectations for everyone ahead of the start date to ensure everyone’s on the same page from the get-go.
- After a project ends. What went well? What didn’t? What do you want to see more of from your employees? What do they want to see more of from you?
- End of the year. What were the biggest successes and where do things need to improve the most? Use this as an opportunity to reflect before setting goals for next year.
How Can Feedback Systems Grow Your Team?
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why consistent feedback contributes to team growth. If your employees are clear about what they do well and what they need to do to improve in the future – and, crucially, if they feel they can give constructive feedback to their managers in return – a harmonious and collaborative work environment will start to take shape.
More and more people will start to hear about all the great things your business is doing and how well the company looks after its staff. More workers will want to join, and fewer workers will want to leave. It’s that simple!
Start To Finish: How To Build Your Employee Feedback System
We’ve talked about how, when, and where to use your feedback system, but what actually goes into making one that’ll be genuinely effective and that’ll grow your team?
There are as many ways of collecting feedback as there are companies in the market, and you’ve got to be just as strategic with which ones you use here as you would when sizing up your competitors. It’s all about figuring out what works for you and your employees!
1. Start Small
Maybe you’ve never implemented a feedback system before, maybe you’re just a small team trying to get your new business off the ground. Either way, it’s not a bad idea to start off small.
Rather than putting heaps of effort into elaborate and time-consuming feedback forms and surveys, why not try something as simple as an informal open-door policy, letting your employees know they can come to you with feedback at any time and you’ll do the same for them?
How about a collaborative file share, where employees and managers alike can share feedback in a productive online space? There are even a ton of simple Doc to PDF software out there, so there are zero excuses! These days, you can turn anything into a team project.
What’s important here is not putting pressure on your employees to deliver feedback. Let them work on it in their own time, and you’ll see more organic and thought-out statements, rather than a hasty one-liner just to get it out of the way.
If you’re not sure how to broach the topic of feedback, consider working it into your regular team activities:
- Stand-up meetings
- Team-building exercises
- Project-focused meetings
- Working lunches
Take five minutes at the beginning or end of a meeting and you’ll see team-building results in no time! An added advantage is that you can start off a constant flow of feedback that breaks things down into easy and manageable chunks, rather than getting a ton of feedback every so often. Always make your goals realistic!
3. Tradition vs. Innovation
The kind of business you run will, at least in some small way, dictate the approach you take to gathering feedback.
If you’re in a small, close-knit team, it might be enough to walk around the office with a clipboard and pen to ask how everyone’s feeling. Sometimes, the traditional methods work best!
However, in our modern age, such practices are becoming increasingly, well, impractical.
More and more businesses are turning to electronic feedback-gathering methods; the data is easier to store and analyze, and new advances in technology mean that employee feedback systems are more efficient than ever.
Now there’s even software that automates the entire process! That’s right, you can now officially sit back, relax, and wait for those comments to roll in.
Even better, you can keep track of your goals and objectives and link them to the feedback itself, keeping everything in one tidy package and streamlining the whole process.
Where would we be without technology?
4. It Matters
Feedback matters, so make time for it. It’s really as easy as that.
Whatever method you use, whether it be simple or fancy, you’ve got to be consistent. Sit down with your team to talk about it, draw a diagram, process map it – whatever you need to do. At the end of the day, it’s about your commitment to building a better team and running a better business. If you have that drive, you’ll see results.
From the very basics of feedback to high-tech automated feedback systems, we’ve covered it all.
Here’s a last look at the ways in which you can make your employee feedback system meet all of your team-growth goals:
1. Little and Often
Rather than asking staff about every aspect of their job, keep questionnaires or surveys short and to the point. What do you really want to know about? Keeping them focused will also make any analysis you carry out much easier, as it will narrow down responses and increase the chances that you’ll get a concrete conclusion.
2. Make Time For It
Whatever your schedule, you’re never too busy to gather feedback. The time it takes to get together is worth every second, as the rewards you can reap from it are second to none. Workplace management tools can be lifesavers here! Stay on top of it and you’ll see team growth in no time.
3. Timing Is Key
As before, it’s vital to get your feedback at strategic times. Maybe you’ve just had a large shift in workflow or company process – gather some feedback and see how people are feeling about it. Perhaps you’ve just finished a complex and lengthy project – use those feedback techniques to gauge how your staff is doing and to get ideas on how you can improve things for next time.
What you don’t want is to send a random feedback form at a time that doesn’t make sense; people will struggle to think of things to say and it’ll be a waste of employee time and manager resources.
4. On That Note, Schedule It!
Making feedback opportunities scheduled is a great way to let your employees know they’re coming and gives them a chance to prepare; asking on the spot can result in blank stares and empty forms! Monthly or bi-monthly should be more than enough, but you can stretch it to every six months depending on your company’s workflow and business model. When in doubt, ask your workers how often they’d like the opportunity to provide or be given feedback.
5. Sharing Is Caring
Whatever method you choose, file-sharing will undoubtedly make your life easier. Google Docs, combine PDF software, all these exist to make things like this more streamlined and efficient – so you can spend less time organizing and more time getting that invaluable constructive feedback.
6. It Doesn’t Have To Be Hard
Remember, feedback is there to make everyone’s lives easier, not harder. If you find you’re spending more time trying to get the feedback itself rather than actually using it to make positive changes in your team – it’s time to re-evaluate. There’s no shame in going back to the drawing board and starting over until you get it right.
If we haven’t convinced you by now of the joys and rewards of employee feedback systems, we don’t know what will!
Post By: Yauhen Zaremba – Director of Demand Generation
Yauhen is the Director of Demand Generation at PandaDoc, an all-in-one document management tool for almost all types of documents. Yauhen has experience speaking at niche conferences where he enjoys sharing his expertise with other curious marketers.
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