A few weeks ago I purchased some soup for lunch. Unbeknownst to me, the act of eating this soup would provide me with a demonstration of the principles of a quality performance feedback system.

I started of course by heating up the soup in the microwave, that's a non brainer! Once the soup was ready, I grabbed my fork and proceeded to return to my desk. (The eagle eyed amongst you may have already spotted my mistake!)

So I'm back at my desk, sat down ready to eat my soup. I grab my fork and stick it in the soup.... As I bring the fork up to my mouth, the soup as expected falls off the fork and I'm left eating steel! I made a mistake, and was feedback was instantaneous. I knew straight away that I had done something wrong and I needed to do things differently.

Of course, when my co workers saw me using a fork, they were quick to point out, quite sarcastically I might add, that I should have used a spoon. So not only was the feedback on my mistake instantaneous, the feedback on what I needed to do in order to improve was also instantaneous!

I trudged to the kitchen to swap my ill fated fork for a spoon and sure enough upon my return, I got a nice large spoonful of Soup! Instant reward for my performance gain!

The whole encountered demonstrated a few key principles of any quality performance feedback system.

  • Principle Number #1 - If a performance gap is identified, feedback should be instantaneous
  • Principle Number #2 - Once identified, a suitable course of action to rectify the gap should be provided ASAP
  • Principle Number #3 - When the newly learnt correct behaviour is demonstrated, validation should be instantaneous

Pretty simple principles, but I'm a big believer that simplicity is the key to success in all walks of life.

So important question time. Do our current performance feedback systems adhere to those principles? If the answer is no, then are our systems really improving employee performance?

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