Instant feedback

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I’ve mentioned my website previously – here’s another of my posts related to material on there. This one’s about instant feedback – and from there to instant gratification, the removal of annual appraisals, the contrast in speed of decisions and activity between start ups and established business – all big shifts stemming from a fairly simple behavioural trend – the instant feedback provided by Likes, Shares,Comments on posts, tweets, Facebook, etc.

We’ve always loved feedback – nothing new there! But the scale, spontaneity and range of feedback from social channels has changed this massively – feeding an increasing need for instant gratification – am I being followed or read? is my selfie liked . . .? The interesting issue for me is how well or otherwise this translates into the business world.

The annual appraisal is the obvious candidate and Deloitte are only one of many removing this and replacing it with more frequent and different systems. But what about the distinction between reward, easily (at least on paper) linked to appraisal ratings (of whatever frequency) and recognition. I’ve long been convinced that companies do not understand the difference, and certainly in my experience ways of demonstrating recognition have generally been exhortations to say thank you just in various ways. And more often than not those ways have been confused with reward – the monetary ‘present’ to say thank you for an above average job for example.

But social feedback is primarily about recognition (or it has been to date – I must admit to speculate whether at some future point a shifting balance of privacy and value in data will make likes a genuine currency) and much less about reward. And hence I think businesses have some real issues to contend with in opening up their performance systems to social feedback and similar tools, or in simply assuming that instant feedback can be introduced. Just think how long Dan Pink and others have been talking about the drivers of motivation without much impact on the standard tools of salaries, bonuses, remuneration.  I think therefore we are talking about a much more radical shift than simply changing the performance management process – something more akin to what companies like Netflix are doing in recognising their employees abilities and judgement, and creating an environment in which that deep level of trust underpins performance. Recognition (indeed mutual recognition) then becomes as important if not more than reward. And as the HBR article points out the process starts with who you employ, much further back than performance management.

I would love to see more about recognition – ‘Drive’ talks about mastery, autonomy and purpose – which are very much the individual drivers but to work collectively, to make the business greater than the sum of those individuals, I suspect that the desire, indeed the increasing expectation, of instant feedback will make recognition a key element too – even though I am not sure that we know what it looks like yet.

Author: macinn2013

Comments in my blog represent my personal views not those of my current or previous employers but are inevitably influenced by my working life, past and present colleagues, friends and family - such is life!

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