What is continuous feedback?

Continuous feedback is a process where you give feedback to employees (and receive it from them) on a regular basis—unlike a traditional performance review which is usually done once or twice a year.

It’s where managers, employees, and colleagues have conversations about their work progress, goals, and areas for improvement. It can take many forms, including one-on-one meetings, informal check-ins, and peer feedback. 

Continuous feedback can be an effective form of performance management, benefiting employees, managers, and the business as a whole.

Why continuous feedback is important

Ongoing feedback is important because it can make a big impact on a company and its employees.

When employees receive frequent feedback, they know where they stand, what they’re doing well, and where they need to improve. This can make them feel more confident and motivated to develop their careers. 

Continuous feedback is essential for employee growth and development. Through it, managers can help employees identify their strengths and weaknesses and develop new skills that will help them advance their careers—increasing job satisfaction, performance, and retention rates.

Employees shouldn’t be the only ones to receive feedback either. It’s important that managers receive employee feedback too, creating a continuous feedback loop which helps everyone know how they can improve.

What should continuous feedback include?

To be effective, continuous feedback needs to feature specific examples—what’s going well, and what could be improved—and the advice needs to be actionable.

Managers and employees can work together to identify specific goals and find ways of achieving them. Using a performance review template or a performance management template can help make the process easier.

Continuous feedback also needs to be regular. That way, advice can be relevant to the projects at hand, and can help employees or managers make immediate improvements. 

It’s also important to make sure that feedback is balanced. While there may be some areas that an employee could improve in, it’s also vital to acknowledge and celebrate their successes. 

And when you do give constructive feedback to employees, rather than just making them aware of where they could improve, it’s even more helpful to also give them guidance on how exactly they can do so. 

Without that guidance and support, the feedback won’t be as effective in improving employee performance. 

Benefits of continuous feedback

  • Improved performance – It can help employees stay on track, identify where they can improve, and give them the support and motivation they need to achieve their goals. Improving performance like this also improves the bottom line. 
  • Increased engagement – Regular feedback and coaching helps professionals feel more engaged, motivated, and satisfied with their work. In fact, employees are happier with managers who take part in regular feedback.
  • Higher retention rates – Continuous feedback makes employees feel valued and supported. It motivates them to work toward long-term goals and helps them develop new skills to advance their careers, so they’re more likely to stay with the company. 

Continuous feedback examples

  • Regular one-on-one meetings – These can be one of the simplest and most effective ways to give feedback. These kinds of meetings can be formally scheduled on a weekly basis. 
  • Informal check-ins – Quick and easy, you can do these in person, via email, or through a messaging platform. It’s helpful to do this when an employee is involved in a challenging project, to make sure they’ve got what they need to see it through.
  • Peer feedback – Managers don’t have to be the only ones to provide continuous feedback. Encouraging peer feedback can be a great way to make sure that continuous feedback becomes an established part of company culture, and doesn’t fall by the wayside. 
  • 360-degree feedback – You can even gather feedback from many sources, including managers, peers, and direct reports. This can provide a comprehensive analysis of an employee’s performance, helping managers to accurately identify specific areas for improvement, or great successes, that might not be obvious from a single perspective.

By making the continuous feedback process a part of your company’s culture, you’ll be creating a positive work environment that motivates, engages, and encourages long-term retention.