Closing the loop – giving quantitative feedback Bundle of colorful electrical cables, in a loop or twist. isolated on white.

Types of quantitative feedback

Employees need quantitative feedback on their individual and team performance so that they may experience a sense of self-achievement, a sense of belonging to a team which is either enjoying success or under challenge together and to make adjustments in what they do and how they behave.

Employees need their frontline manager and more senior managers to close the loop from planning to execution.

In terms of quantitative feedback, employees need to be made aware of:

  • Progress against plan
  • Process KPI variations and trends
  • Personal performance.

Progress against plan

Organising quarterly information sessions about progress against plan is the most effective means of giving quantitative feedback on progress. A two-way channel is appropriate as the communication of progress against plan is often complex. Employees need to be able to ask questions about topics which concern them and to gain clarification. If face-to-face meetings are not logistically practical, create a video and open a feedback channel by email or over the internet directly after its showing in each location. Ensure the channel is manned by people capable of giving a considered response within advertised response times.

If a video is not practical, consider using a conference call facility that allows employees to ask questions or a voice mail broadcast that allows employees to hear the tone and pace of voice.

If you are restricted to one-way communication channels use a combination of text, tables and graphics to communicate progress in ways that covers a broad range of communication preferences. Allow, if you can, for questions to be sent in by email and through an internet form directly after distribution of the progress report.

Process KPI variations and trends

Employees require more instant communication of process KPI variations and trends so that they may evaluate and adjust the process when it is determined that the process is not in control or has trended outside limits imposed to meet customer requirements.

Practice visible management in communicating with employees about process KPI variations and trends. Visible management techniques include:

  • Visibility boards (bulletin boards converted to display measurements),
  • End-of-period updates,
  • Scorecards and
  • Chartbooks containing the plan for improvement, measures of performance, progress and performance updates.

A visibility board is essentially a Gantt chart displayed on a large (2 to 3 metre tall by 7 to 12 metre long) board. The far right side of the board displays the vision — the way things should be. The far left side of the board portrays the current situation — the way things are. The middle of the board represents the work plan. Rows on the chart identify the work or projects of the improvement team and the columns represent points in time.

The bottom row presents key performance indicators (KPIs) for key result areas in a scorecard or instrument panel format. The bottom left corner portrays current performance levels on current performance indicators. The bottom right corner offers future, desired performance levels on current and future performance indicators.

The portrayal of the plan and do with the visible measurement system and results — creates the opportunity for learning and motivation. The wall allows staff to study the entire improvement strategy over a period of time.

Team members learn how to formulate hypotheses about cause-and-effect relationships and test them using measurement. This is a subtle process that can assist greatly in effective implementation and deployment.

Personal performance

Employees need feedback on personal performance informally at a frequency that is suitable for them and whenever their performance deviates significantly from what is considered as an accepted norm to achieve the goal which has been agreed.

The feedback needs to be specific, accurate and given as close as possible to the timing of the performance for which the feedback is being given.

Employees also need formal feedback at least six monthly. Formal feedback should be given on the following independent variables of performance:

  • Quality of work – delivery of the essential job functions
  • Quantity of work
  • Job knowledge
  • Dependability
  • Initiative
  • Adaptability.

Quantitative feedback in both informal and formal situations should be two-way with a view to building on positive performance variations and assisting through training, coaching or mentoring to reduce or eliminate negative variations.

It is important that managers set the tone for personal performance appraisals by ensuring that they make appointments with each of their direct reports to complete appraisals early in the appraisal process window.

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