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Fast Feedback: What It Is and Why You Should Care


It seems like a lot of folks are talking about Fast Feedback and for good reason. The old days of ‘formal performance reviews’ once or twice a year, with zero feedback in between, should be over. For example, have you ever received constructive feedback months after an event occurred? It isn’t exactly helpful at that point anymore, is it? We bet it also didn’t make you feel like a valued team member. 


“63% of employees want more regular feedback,” Unleash AI reports. Similarly, career development is being stunted by infrequent communication, or waiting to give feedback during reviews that take place sparingly throughout the year. 

What is Fast Feedback? 

So what even is Fast Feedback? Although you may not be familiar with the term, you are likely familiar with the concept. Fast Feedback, as defined by Gallup, is “a more meaningful, and approachable way to give feedback quickly and frequently.” 


For managers who find the task of giving feedback during formalized review processes intimidating, Fast Feedback is a much needed rebrand. When the feedback process becomes a daily or weekly occurrence, it simultaneously transforms into an approachable conversation for both managers and employees. 


There are a few core components of Fast Feedback from Gallup’s research – let’s jump into these here. 


  1. Fast Feedback should be provided in a timely manner.

    • ​​​As soon as a manager identifies either an opportunity area or something the employee exceeded at, 1 – 2 minutes should be taken to acknowledge this. As Gallup pointed out, “effective feedback has an expiration date”. Depending on the type of feedback, a quick Slack message could suffice. This doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out and complicated process like formal reviews often are. A quick 1-minute phone call or coffee break can also do the job. And the more managers get into the routine of providing feedback in this way, the more employees will become comfortable with the process and even start to expect it.

  2. Managers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to Fast Feedback.

    • Fast Feedback ultimately is the responsibility of a manager. It falls on them to ensure these two-way dialogues are happening frequently. To not only be aware of their employees strengths and weaknesses, but also to communicate this to them. And to provide clear, consistent feedback about both wins and losses. Feedback isn’t as rewarding when it’s consistently negative.

  3. Although managers should be initiating these conversations – Fast Feedback should be a two-way dialogue.

    • A great way to start off a Fast Feedback conversation is by asking the employee how they thought a specific event went. Whether it’s a client presentation, an internal HR deliverable or even training a new colleague – it’s best to first understand their point of view on the matter. This can also encourage the employee to “own” the situation, and subsequently own their development (Gallup). Lastly, asking questions and wanting their perspective will likely make feedback feel like a conversation rather than an intimidating event. Whether you’re delivering positive or negative feedback, it’s always good to ask the employee first! 


Fast Feedback Example


Okay, so now that we have the definition and components of Fast Feedback let’s give an example. Imagine you just had a client presentation with your direct report, Silas. It was his responsibility to take notes, confirm next steps and clarify any questions that came up. However, Silas stayed silent the entire meeting and was very flustered when you asked him to read over the next steps. Right after the meeting, you walk back to your offices just the two of you. You take this opportunity to ask Silas how he thought the meeting went. 


He said he took very detailed notes, yet things were moving fast and he lost track of some of the next steps as he was trying to take down every detail. Next time he’ll work on typing faster. You first thank him for taking thorough notes. You also let him know that he did seem flustered while reading out the next steps. You further embrace this learning opportunity by sending Silas some of your own notes from previous client calls. You point out that taking down every detail is unnecessary, and his main priority should be noting any thoughts or questions from the client (not the internal team). That way when he repeats next steps at the end of the call he can do so confidently and clearly. 


He walks away with a better understanding of his role for next time, and you walk away feeling good about the dialogue and hopeful for his future improvements. It’s a win-win, and it happened in less than two minutes on your walk back to your office. Now that’s a successful Fast Feedback situation!


Imagine you had waited to tell Silas this at his yearly review – which is four months away. He likely would have used the same note-taking process, which was taking down every minute detail, in the interim. You would have gotten even more frustrated, and clients would have lost confidence in your team. But Fast Feedback saved the day! 

Why Is This Important? 

Okay, okay, so you may be thinking Fast Feedback sounds nice at this point. But why is this really important? Why should companies be seriously thinking about implementing this feedback system, and saying goodbye to relying on only 1 – 2 formal reviews a year? Well, it really all comes down to the research.


We discovered that 82% of employees feel appreciated when management takes the time to give feedback (Unleash AI ). A different study conducted by Adam Grant and Francesca Gino found that employees who experience appreciation from leaders are more productive (Harvard Business Review). In parallel, another study shows that team tasks are performed better when members believe they are cared for and respected by others (Sage Journals). Given this data, it’s no surprise that Gallup’s research shows employees are more engaged when they receive consistent feedback. 


Lastly, research has shown that Fast Feedback is critical for continuous improvement (Indeed). In today’s fast moving world, where things are changing constantly, employees too are expected to consistently upskill and improve their performance. This is nearly impossible to do without getting any sort of real-time feedback. To have employees who are constantly growing and challenging themselves, they need consistent, honest and specific commentary from managers and peers alike. 


To some, you may realize you are already implementing Fast Feedback practices into your routine. Kudos! To others, you may realize you’re keeping things old school and conducting formal reviews once or twice a year without much, if any, feedback in between. That’s okay too, as many of us have been trained to do the latter. The great thing about Fast Feedback is that it’s easy. Easy to implement. Easy to adopt. And easy to start liking for both managers and employees. There are no formal processes, paperwork or 360 assessments involved. It’s just you and an employee having a conversation about an event. Maybe over virtual coffee. Maybe over Slack. Maybe actually in-person. No matter the setting, you got this! For more thought leadership pieces, visit our blog here. 

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