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Creating a Culture of Continuous Feedback and Recognition


Wed Dec 06 2017

Creating a Culture of Continuous Feedback and Recognition

If you’ve ever sat down to complete a performance review, you may know that dreaded feeling: I know she has done an excellent job this year. Now if I can only remember what others said about her....

Performance journals (in your talent management platform, or a literal paper journal), your Outlook folder of emails, or your elephant memory—these are all familiar tools to help you recall helpful feedback on employees. If you’ve done all of that right, congratulations. You’ll probably fill out a great review, accurately capturing kudos, to the appreciation of the employee. However, many of us do not take advantage of the readily available tools to record employee feedback. Can we do better now with today’s talent tools, and does it matter in the realm of healthcare? Absolutely.


I often hear the following emerge in strategic goal discussions with healthcare organizations implementing a learning and performance platform in particular:

  • We could be doing better identifying and retaining top talent, especially in our clinical staff.

  • We do engagement surveys all the time, and yes, we could do better to engage employees.

  • We’re on board with continuous feedback.

I then ask, what about using features or tools woven into the platform to provide public, continuous employee feedback and recognition? After a few seconds, someone will usually verbalize what most are thinking: “It’ll be mayhem if we enable crowdsourced recognition or feedback. What will get posted? Will it be any good?”

The risks are certainly there. Disengaged employees—those less emotionally connected to the organization—may have no qualms about voicing their opinion in a public forum that other employees can view. Yet what’s riskier: the nonengaged, nonaccountable employee who may complain or say “\_\_\_\_ always gets the credit” or missing opportunities to recognize your best employees? Perhaps a culture of continuous feedback and recognition isn’t going to be in full bloom right away—but as an organization, you can be on your way.

Why Does It Matter?Engagement. Accountability. Retention. Continuous feedback. Your HR buzzword bingo card is full and yet practical steps can seem elusive, but the use of public feedback and recognition tools in your talent management platform are not gimmicks. They can help you move in a direction that can also be adjusted based on your organization culture. Despite some risks, the opportunities are immense:

  • Discover organization-specific best practices being used by your best employees while recognizing them and potentially implementing these practices sooner than later (or ever).

  • Create tighter connections between managers and employees. Organically generate relevant conversations. When feedback and recognition is provided by indirect managers or across departments, previously unknown insights emerge, helping your employees feel valued and motivated (especially if they are working between different departments or clinical facilities).

  • Take noticeable steps toward a workplace culture where others are not only recognized but heard.

  • Increase engagement with the talent platform you’ve already invested in.

These opportunities can then be a rising tide, working to move toward more positivity in recognition—even among those who may seem disengaged. In combination with a continuous feedback culture, they can mutually accelerate one another. Therefore, your strategy for continuous feedback should also include continuous recognition, allowing you to highlight those who are performing with excellence, providing real flesh to the many behaviors that you’ve painstakingly taken the time to outline in company values, pillars, and so forth.


How Do You Get Started?

Seek a talent platform that allows for not only continuous feedback, but continuous recognition. If you’re about to embark on a talent management platform search or you’re already in the midst of one, don’t underestimate the value of these features. With healthcare’s emphasis on real-time patient feedback and the measurement of patient experience, it’s not a drastic mindset leap to get real-time reads on how employees are performing, from team members themselves. Today’s talent management platforms these days can weave opportunities in for you.

Acknowledge the potential discomfort around these tools—it exists. Engage your colleagues in a discussion that explores possibilities and a shift in both feedback and recognition, embedded in your talent management tools. You may be surprised by what happens after you get over the initial, knee-jerk reactions and consider the larger organizational impact, especially for your star employees.

Think about a mindset shift over the long-term. Piloting functionality is especially useful in healthcare, where change management can have its own unique challenges due to deeply rutted processes and the constant press of all things urgent. Give your organization some time to adapt and own the tools at their pace. I had a recent client tell us about a bulletin board of employee quotes that they thought failed because the same people got quotes posted over and over again, and so they abandoned the idea. Other clients have employed similar public (paper) items and said it worked out well, but it was optional.

These examples are in compartmentalized mediums, and usually confined to a department’s initiatives. Within our organization, for example, the use of open employee feedback and recognition—mixed into our talent management platform—makes a difference. The integration brings things much closer within reach for use, helping to grow momentum for the feedback and recognition. While it may be easy to dismiss that something is the equivalent of a social media “like” or a fleeting electronic pat on the back, it matters. These mentions stick for our employees—for me as well—and they are a vital part of not just continuous feedback but continuous recognition (and remembrance) leading up to a performance management cycle.

Don’t miss the opportunity. For all the tools and investment when it comes to deciphering employee engagement and overall organizational feedback, don’t miss out on a chance to leverage talent platforms that allow for continuous feedback and recognition. They not only benefit your employees with diverse, rich feedback and fuel a more positive culture, but also help put you closer to those much-desired increases in employee engagement, accountability, and retention.


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