Your Guide To Positive Feedback Loops (With Examples)
Updated January 6, 2022
Published March 12, 2020
Jennifer Herrity is a seasoned career services professional with 12+ years of experience in career coaching, recruiting and leadership roles with the purpose of helping others to find their best-fit jobs. She helps people navigate the job search process through one-on-one career coaching, webinars, workshops, articles and career advice videos on Indeed's YouTube channel.
Receiving regular positive feedback keeps a company's employees informed of their strengths, which lets them know how their actions are benefiting the company and its customers. Once everyone is informed of the quality of their work, they can make better decisions toward meeting the company's objectives. In this article, we discuss what positive feedback loops are, their benefits and what they look like in action, with examples and tips.
What is a positive feedback loop?
A positive feedback loop is a continual process in which an organization solicits or gives feedback so they can improve the company structure and processes. In business, there are a few main types of positive feedback loops:
Companies give input to employees to improve their performance.
Companies take input from employees to improve the workplace.
Companies typically also take feedback from customers to boost the company's product and service quality.
These processes are called loops because the employees or management take the input and use it to adjust their actions and goals. They then direct the results of those actions back into the feedback process, which creates more input.
How positive feedback loops work
The concept of positive feedback loops is well established in scientific fields like biology. The basic formula of a positive feedback loop is that stimulus X produces reaction Y, which then produces more of stimulus X. This process is in contrast to negative feedback loops in which each stimulus causes a lower reaction until the process ultimately stops.
Feedback loops in business should function the same way they do in the scientific fields. Each stage of the process should build upon successes so the company achieves increasingly higher goals. Since each stage is so crucial, it is necessary to constantly monitor feedback to make sure it stays positive and that employees are responding in positive ways. In the workplace, this may entail regular employee reviews or surveys, or monitoring concrete objectives like increased sales.
Advantages of positive feedback loops
Here are some of the main benefits of positive feedback loops:
High productivity: Employees will likely contribute more enthusiastically when they know management appreciates their efforts, causing increased production of goods and services. Additionally, when employers take feedback from their staff, they can make different arrangements to improve productivity, such as putting employees who work together well into a project team.
Improved job satisfaction: If you feel like your contributions are improving your workplace processes and meeting the company's goals, you will probably enjoy your job more.
Better communication between team members: When employees hold each other accountable for improving their organization, they will likely also take part in the feedback loop. Consistently praising your coworkers can build trust and better working relationships.
Increased trust in management: When managers frequently praise their employees' positive efforts, team members should feel more valued and be more likely to confide in managers when challenges or other issues arise.
Better staff retention: Company turnover will likely decrease when employees feel they are contributing to a greater good.
Safer workplaces: Consistently asking for employee feedback can keep management alerted to any workplace safety issues so they can implement any necessary repairs or improvements.
Higher-quality products and services: When a company values customer input, they tend to use it to improve their products and services. For instance, if customers frequently note that a restaurant's new menu item has smaller portions than others, the restaurant might provide more food with the dish.
Related: Tips To Demonstrate Work Ethic
Positive feedback loop examples
To give you a better idea of how positive feedback loops work in an organization, here are a few examples:
Employer feedback to improve employee performance
Regular employee reviews are typical for most workplaces and can serve as a starting point for a feedback loop. For example, if your job frequently requires you to work independently, your employer might note that you find it challenging to access opportunities to work with a team. You would then take this feedback and use it to improve communication, organization and other workplace practices. Afterward, your employer could see these positive changes and give you more opportunities to work with a team, potentially even in a supervisory role.
Employee feedback to improve workplace processes
As another example, you may work for a magazine selling ad space. Since print magazines are frequently closing or moving to online platforms, ad sales have gone down. In a positive feedback loop, management may ask you for some ideas to drive sales, so you suggest offering the first month free for a six-month commitment. If the plan works, the employer should offer you praise and then ask for more ideas. These, in turn, could boost sales and lead to more positive feedback.
Customer feedback to improve product quality
Say a car manufacturer replaces their former model of stereo speakers with ones from a new vendor. Customers are dissatisfied and note that the new speakers aren't as loud as the previous models and often have an echo. If you're in charge of tech for the cars, you could either go back to the old speaker model or look for a new product. Based on the feedback you receive from this change, you can begin looking for other components of the car to improve.
Related: How To Respond to Customer Reviews
Tips for positive feedback loops
If you're interested in creating and maintaining a positive feedback loop in your workplace, here are a few things to remember:
Be consistent: When you're in a positive feedback loop, it is important to receive input at regular intervals. If you've instituted a new employee incentive plan, for instance, consider conducting monthly or quarterly evaluations to gauge job satisfaction.
Set clear goals: To ensure the feedback loop is functioning as intended, it is important to have defined and actionable objectives. For instance, if you set up a new customer loyalty program for an online store, you might set a goal of having a certain number of repeat sales per customer in a quarter.
Offer constructive criticism: Positive feedback is more than giving praise. To ensure products, performance or processes improve, each individual should be aware of any issues that aren't working. In these cases, make sure to be encouraging and outline specific steps to take.
Take action: Since the feedback loop depends on constant input and responses, make sure you're taking steps to implement the feedback you receive.
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