What is Real-Time Feedback and Why Do Leading Companies Use It?

What is real-time feedback and real-time feedback systems

Everyone’s talking about real-time feedback right now, especially about how it’s much better for developing and retaining happy employees than an old-school annual review. Leading companies like Accenture have gone so far as to eliminate their once-a-year evaluations and rankings.

As a provider of future-ready people management tools that help companies hang on to their best employees, we’re huge advocates of real-time feedback. It’s a method for managing performance throughout the year, rather than containing it to annual performance reviews. We’ve seen some of our biggest clients use it to transform the employee experience at their company and build a higher performing organization.

What is Real-Time Feedback and what are the benefits?

As its name implies, real-time feedback (or RTF) is effective because it takes place on an ongoing basis, as things happen. Any parent or pet owner will understand this one – it’s better to reward or correct behavior as soon as possible. Delayed responses are much less effective and can leave the recipient feeling lost, confused, and resentful.

By instilling a real-time feedback system where workers can request specific guidance from their supervisor at any time, employers can ensure that they are capturing the subtleties of their organization’s work throughout the year and taking every available opportunity to improve it. If their system includes recurring RTF triggers, they can make sure everyone in their organization is receiving it regularly or at set checkpoints.

It may seem like a big commitment to scale across your organization, but we’ll explore how to make it easy for you and your people to adopt. First, let’s break down some of the biggest benefits of a real-time feedback system.

Better performance

An annual review cycle can give you a broad look at an employee’s performance and progress each year, as well as their goals and other annual planning. In contrast (or in addition), RTF can capture the day-to-day, project-to-project performance and continuously find opportunities to better it through course correction and guidance. It’s the difference between a post-mortem meeting after a project is complete (the annual performance reviews) and the progress meetings you have throughout a project (the real-time feedback).

Project-specific guidance

At professional services organizations, such as law firms and consulting firms, people work on numerous internal or client projects throughout a year, often billing on multiple projects and reporting to multiple supervisors at once. Giving project-specific RTF can track and guide each individual contribution to a project, while aligning overall firm performance and increasing client satisfaction.

Easy and accurate annual reviews

RTF can be used in conjunction with your annual review and can actually make the year-end review cycle easier and more accurate. Rather than having to recall 6 or 12 months of work for each person, reviewers will have the context and history of that person’s RTF to guide their summaries and evaluations of their performance. This saves time and means that their evaluations will be less susceptible to recency bias.

Introducing an RTF system to your workplace may seem like a lot more work for your supervisors, and even your employees, if they’re asked to provide RTF for their peers. However; by supporting (or replacing) your annual reviews, it will not only help their work performance, but it will also help save them time and effort in the long run. Stop letting those annual reviews be a pain point for your organization and instead turn performance management into a helpful, ongoing process.

Happier employees

Real-time feedback can make employees feel less anxious, because they won’t feel blindsided by their year-end performance reviews. Instead, they’ll have had the chance to recognize and correct issues, as well as learn from their mistakes. RTF can also be used to recognize when they are performing well or improving upon past advice, and this continual recognition can help increase their motivation.

Stronger leadership

Having regular performance conversations can strengthen leadership in your organization, as your managers will find more opportunities to lead and support their teams. They can also easily keep on top of RTF if your system or tools have recurring triggers and automatic reminders for incomplete requests. However, it’s important for firms to provide support to managers when it comes to implementing a real-time feedback system.


It can also improve relationships among your teams and bring them closer together. Team members will feel more supported and know that help is easily accessible, and their supervisors and peers will be up-to-date and involved in their work without micromanaging or pestering them.

The next gen workforce needs next gen feedback

Younger generations of workers, such as Millennials and Generation Z, have come to expect and request instant feedback on their work. They want to be advised, recognized, and rewarded in real time. They actually value it so much that most would rather receive negative feedback than none at all.

Research by TriNet and Wakefield Research found that Millennials are most unhappy with feeling “in the dark” about how their managers and peers think how they’re performing at work (74%). Close to two in three (62%) felt “blindsided” by performance reviews, while nearly half (47%) admitted that receiving performance reviews makes them feel like they can’t do anything right.

Here’s a few more facts from that research:

  • Nearly one in four (22%) employees have called in sick because they were anxious about receiving their review.
  • More than half (59%) also complained that their manager is unprepared to give feedback.
  • As a result, more than a quarter (28%) have left a performance review with a view to start looking out for another job, while more than one-third have gone on to complain to their peers (35%).

It seems like these younger generations are looking for the opportunity to learn as they go and do better. They’d rather have many small opportunities to grow than a big negative experience at the end of year that feels too little, too late. Of course, it’s also difficult to come into a new organization and question how things are done when you’re an early career hire. It could be the way your employer has handled performance management for years, even decades.

Rather than putting them in that position, organizations should pay attention to research like this and consider modernizing their performance management processes and keeping them future-ready. Don’t give your people the chance to be dissatisfied, and above all, listen to their feedback too.

Collect real-time feedback with vi’s intuitive plug in

Our real-time feedback module allows you to design the ultimate RTF process. You can create any RTF questionnaire and any process you want, fully customized to your organization. We offer default best practice forms for you too, right out of the box, so it’s intuitive and easy to get started.

Use it to collect real-time feedback on specific projects and assignments throughout the year. If your employees are working on large scale projects, you can easily schedule check-ins along the way. As soon as someone requests RTF, the system automatically emails the people who should give it and will continue to follow-up with evaluators until the request is fulfilled. You can also track RTF history, progress, and trends with our analytics.

Give it a try

To get started with a demo of our real-time performance management software, just follow the link below.

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