The Change Management Curve of Continuous Feedback

Make feedback a winning habit on your team.

Written By

Picture of Lauren Humphrey

Lauren Humphrey

Co-founder of Tandem

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This is a guide to help your company nail the change management transition to continuous feedback with clarity and purpose. We’ll break down the science of change and give you a toolkit to make the transition. With Tandem, you can get started with continuous feedback in as little as 7 days.

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What does the transition to continuous feedback mean?

Any time you adopt a new way of working this means change for your team and a change management process for you. With change comes resistance (and some other feelings). People struggle with change for a variety of reasons – fear of the unknown, discomfort while adapting, having to learn something new, a sense of loss. 

The Kubler-Ross Change Curve provides a good visualization of what your employees will experience. The trick: helping them through the stages of change so you can get to the upside quickly. 

How can you help your team navigate the change management curve?

Using a proven framework can help your team process their negative emotions and get to a place of commitment faster. We recommend using the 4 Ps Change Framework because it’s comprehensive and easy-to-remember.

  1. Purpose: describe the current state and why it is undesirable. Personalize this as much for your audience as possible. Ground this in data and help people see what they don’t have insight into. This is your purpose for change.
  2. Picture: articulate the change that is going to take place. Make this as clear and simple as possible. Paint a compelling vision of how things will look after the change. Don’t sugar-coat or bend the truth. But do connect the future to what motivates and benefits your people.
  3. Plan: share the plan – clear steps and a timeline. You don’t need to share every last detail; focus on the first and most critical steps. Otherwise, people will lose the plot. You can make detailed information accessible later. 
  4. Part: one of the toughest aspects of change is the loss of control. You can help people feel more in control by articulating their part in the change process. This is also where you can gain tangible commitment.

Next, we’ll break down each of the 4Ps as they apply to the adoption of continuous feedback.

What’s the purpose of continuous feedback?

Many HR leaders and executive teams are grappling with the notion that traditional performance management is broken. Today’s workforce demands more learning and growth opportunities, validation, and recognition. Without a consistent feedback loop, many employees are left in the dark, productivity declines, and teams lose top performers. 

What’s more, performance reviews can be tedious, time-consuming and not move the needle on actual performance. Because many companies wait to review performance 1-2 times per year, many employees are surprised by their assessments. HR also reports performance issues that are addressed too late, leading to high-risk PIPs and concerns on the team that low performers are not handled.

Continuous feedback is an approach that can help with all of the above. We recommend painting the picture of the current state to your leadership team first to gain their buy-in. Reference data from engagement surveys, a collection of anecdotes from trusted employees, regrettable attrition stats, Glassdoor or other review sites. The more specific the problem you can identify with the status quo, the better.

Based on your company’s pain points, you can articulate the right purpose. Here are some examples: “At [company], we are going to adopt continuous feedback so that we”…

  • Be the destination for top performers who want to learn and grow
  • Use our collective knowledge and skills to up-level everyone on the team
  • Give everyone opportunities to learn, grow, and succeed
  • Appreciate, challenge, and support everyone to ensure high performance by all
  • Avoid performance review cycles while ensuring everyone gets quality feedback
  • Make performance reviews fair, fast, and surprise-less so we can get back to doing great work

What picture can you paint?

Now it’s time to help your team envision what it means to transition to continuous feedback. 

Label the change clearly (you can use your purpose statement from above): “We’re embracing continuous feedback to improve company performance and help everyone grow. This means that we will be setting an expectation for feedback activity and consider continuous feedback a core part of our culture”.

It’s good to acknowledge the pain points:

  • Giving feedback is hard and we need to help everyone increase capability
  • Receiving feedback is scary and we need to help everyone increase capability
  • Continuous feedback requires an upfront investment to form the habit
  • We may find cracks in our foundation that need to be addressed – trust, communication, clear expectations, progression paths, skill and performance gaps

Most important, explain the benefits to your team:

  • Higher quality, meaningful feedback
  • Know how you’re doing
  • Recognition for your contributions
  • Gain learning and growth opportunities
  • Learn about performance issues when you can still correct them
  • Increase transparency and trust
  • Tap into the knowledge and skills of your peers

Here are template slides you can share at an All Hands to introduce this change.

What’s the plan?

It can be tempting to overcomplicate the rollout of a change. Keep the plan simple so your team doesn’t feel more overwhelmed. Focus team members on a few steps and create clear lines of communication. 

The good news about continuous feedback is that it doesn’t require a lot of overhead to get started, especially if you’re using a tool like Tandem. 

Here’s a sample game plan:

  • Timeline: we’ll shift to continuous feedback on xx date
  • Expectation: we expect each team member to perform these feedback activities on a weekly basis
  • Support: you can ask for help and share feedback via these channels (e.g. Slack, tool, forum, training)
  • Accountability: we’ll evaluate our progress on yy date by abc activity (e.g. survey, discussion forum, reviewing metric)
  • Context: if relevant, you can clarify how continuous feedback will augment or replace your performance review process and tools

Here’s a sample announcement you can share:

It’s important for {COMPANY NAME} to build a culture of continuous feedback. Continuous feedback can help each of us achieve high performance and growth. 

We know that sharing consistent, quality feedback can be hard! That’s why we’re partnering with Tandem to help us all give and receive consistent, quality feedback. (Good news – Tandem sits right in Slack so you won’t need another login.)

Next steps

When we invite you to use Tandem, you will receive a message in the tool under the Apps section of Slack. Please complete the 1-2 min Onboarding by {xx date}.

Goal: we want to increase overall feedback activity and will expect that everyone:

  • Shares feedback or Shouts out at least 1-time per week
  • Asks for 1 piece of feedback from a colleague each month – check out why peer feedback is important here
  • Log notes each week on our own performance and about each team member to prepare for 1:1s

To get ourselves in the habit of feedback, we will set a team-wide activity challenge for our first 30 days! Stay tuned on the team challenge and please share feedback (in Tandem) with me any time about this exciting step in our culture.

Let’s Grow!

{HR name}

What part can everyone play?

As the owner of this transition, the part you can play is to help people through the change management curve. As you embrace continuous feedback, be prepared to uncover aspects of your organization that need addressing. Such as communication issues, capability gaps, trust concerns. Make sure that you are highlighting wins too! Think: teammates sharing feedback stories in All Hands, spotlighting improvements to key engagement survey stats, improvements to performance.

We strongly recommend getting your leadership team (C-level, all leaders, specific champions) to play the part of role models. Ask them to be early adopters of increasing feedback and upskilling themselves on giving and receiving feedback. You can have them share examples of when feedback has helped them improve their performance. Make clear asks for how they can prioritize feedback on their teams – e.g. give shout-outs in team channels for consistent recognition, ask for feedback after meetings/deliverables, set aside time during each 1:1 for feedback, share feedback in a timely way.

For everyone else on the team, help them understand their part by setting a clear activity goal. Make this goal a part of 1:1 check-ins and find ways to celebrate those who take the right actions (e.g. rewards for top feedback performers). Keep up the excitement by spotlighting a leaderboard, creating a team feedback challenge, and launching specific feedback events (e.g. peer, self-reflection) throughout the year.

How Tandem can help

Tandem makes continuous feedback turnkey. While we can’t help you avoid change, we can make the change a successful one that sets your company on the path to better performance and engagement.