Continuous Feedback to Boost Productivity

Many organizations today are in the midst of adopting modern timesheet systems to continuously provide their employees with feedback and to boost productivity and success. But timesheet systems have existed for over 40 years. So what is the difference between traditional and modern timesheet systems?

Traditional Timesheet Systems

A traditional timesheet system is a financial tool which records the employee time that would be charged to an account code. A traditional timesheet contains little or no context information about the activities that the employee is performing for a sales opportunity or project. Some companies even ask their employees to fill in at least 40 hours per week in their timesheet since they are supposed to get paid for 40 hours per week. Traditional timesheets reflect what the company is supposed to pay its employees from a payroll standpoint, but not what the employees are supposed to do from a day-to-day management standpoint. Traditional timesheets cannot help employees and managers to understand their plan vs. actual gaps incrementally to improve their effort-and-time management moving forward. Employees and managers only discover the gap when it is already very huge or the project is already failing.

Modern Timesheet Systems

A modern timesheet system is a time-and-effort commitment management tool which has embedded project management functionality. A modern timesheet system contains full context information of the activities that the employee is conducting for a sales opportunity, a contractual delivery, an internal project and/or an ad-hoc assignment. If the employee worked on two different activities for the period, all the employee and the manager need to do is to verify the actual time-and-effort information is the same as planned time-and-effort for each activity for the period. If they are not the same, then they will need to agree and update the information. By doing so, both the employee and manager will clearly see the gap. Teams need this type of incremental feedback to manage themselves better for the remaining period and to get the total job done.

How to Implement Modern Timesheet Systems

If you intend to join this bandwagon, you would have several questions in your mind around the same. Questions around the best practices, the common pitfalls, duration and frequency and much more.

To help organizations leverage the continuous feedback framework, we compiled a list of commonly asked questions along with answers from industry experts, as follows:

What are the best practices to ensure the effectiveness of continuous feedback?

Continuous feedback implies high frequency (such as daily) feedback. Feedback of that frequency must be (i) simple but key and (ii) computer-assisted. Below is the list of practices you can leverage to augment the effectiveness of your continuous feedback:

  • Feedback only on the key things that can be measured with computer assistance such as the following of an assigned task:
    a. Planned effort
    b. Planned completion time
    c. Effort spent so far
    d. Time consumed so far
    e. Percentage of complete so far

  • Computer-assisted review-and- feedback regularly. Continuous feedback will only lead to better performance when you have a clear picture of the employee's progress of each task. Therefore, it is important to have your system constantly track the progress of your employees and provide them with appropriate timely feedback.

  • Encourage dialogue. Your computer-assisted continuous feedback will only be effective if you promote and encourage dialogue. Simply sharing your inputs and feedback with your employees on a regular basis via your modern timesheet system will not suffice. Rather, you need to encourage your employees to share their side of the story as well as voice challenges and provide feedback to you as well. This way, continuous feedback will ensure that a culture of improvement comes to the forefront.

  • Gauge employee pulse. To make continuous feedback effective, you need to have insights into employee perceptions and opinions in real time. This will help you to preempt risks and address challenges by providing appropriate feedback and support.

How can fast-growing organizations embed ongoing feedback in their flow of work?

To make continuous feedback effective, you need to have a consistent approach. One of the best ways to achieve the same is by embedding continuous feedback in the very culture of the organization. The idea is to see it as a part of the flow of work, rather than an added responsibility.

When it comes to continuous feedback, it is not always about sharing with your employees where they can improve. It is equally about sharing some insights with them and learning from them how they feel and how work is going, what are the challenges they face etc.

Therefore, if you focus your efforts on ensuring regular constructive conversations as a part of your workday, feedback continuity will be taken care of. Here you can also focus on creating a culture where one-on-one conversations are a norm.

Performance Reviews vs. Continuous Feedback: How to keep them separate?

If you are moving towards a continuous feedback approach, you might gradually realize that your regular ongoing reviews are replacing your performance reviews. There is often this challenge that most organizations face.

However, it is extremely important to keep the two distinct because while the former focuses on real-time challenges and concerns, it does not offer a holistic picture of the employee's performance and will not be enough to assign appraisals, long-term rewards and career planning.

Your continuous feedback could focus on augmenting engagement and talking about creating an empowering culture. While your performance review will solely focus on the employee and how her contribution has been to organizational success, continuous feedback can take care of several other factors which enable employee growth and development.


Leveraging a modern timesheet system such as Timesheet can help you ensure that there is consistency and continuity to your feedback approach and that there are concrete next steps and way forward after the feedback which is regularly tracked to ensure effective results.

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