Enthusiasm for the new feedback culture is great, but what happens when you have too much feedback being exchanged? If the process becomes overwhelming you may slowly start to see a decline in participation. At the same time you don’t want to demotivate people from actively giving feedback. Here are some guidelines you can set out to prevent a feedback overload:
1. Be selective
Even if employees and managers are excited about the idea of getting feedback on their performance, advise them to consider carefully who they want to ask feedback from. Some people may have a tendency to send mass feedback requests to everybody on their team, even their coffee break buddy. Instead, each time someone asks for feedback they should consider what skill or project they want reviewed and who would have the best insights. People who were directly involved or have had a similar experience in the past are best equipped to give you helpful feedback. Also tell them to remember, that their best work buddies aren’t always the right people to ask. Requesting feedback from someone they’re sure will give them an objective assessment will always be more valuable.
2. Consider how much time you can devote
Employees should also keep in mind the time it takes to respond to a feedback request. How much time are they willing to spend on providing feedback? If they ask for feedback from ten people, are they willing to give it back ten times? This is a good rule of thumb when deciding how many people and how often you should request feedback. Normally we advise people to keep the number to under five people. Remember the quality of the feedback you give is more important than the amount. So if you ask for it you should be prepared to return the favor. Impraise also helps HR to prevent feedback overload by providing warning signals when people begin to send too many feedback requests.
3. Leave room for improvement
During your initial leadership training sessions you may place extra emphasis on encouraging managers to request upward feedback and to give it more often to their employees. But what do you do when a manager becomes overly enthusiastic about feedback? Without discouraging them from their pro-feedback spirit, remind managers that the most important outcome of giving more performance feedback is to help people develop. Feedback can provide helpful guidance and encouragement, but employees then need time to try it out for themselves and demonstrate results. If they’re receiving feedback on a specific skill before they have time to demonstrate improvement, they may become discouraged or feel their performance is being monitored too closely. The best mentor knows when to give great advice and when to give people space to improve on their own.
This article is part of a guide for HR about how to create a feedback culture.
HR Manager Handbook: Consolidating your feedback culture
Make the change stick