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The Power Of Feedback

A common theme Trindent sees in our financial services engagements is time lost to excessive rework at the end of an application process cycle.  In an insurance organization, multiple hand-offs between departments occur as a regular part of the cycle, from the intake of new applications to the final issuing of a policy.  However, one crucial part of the cycle that tends to get overlooked is quality control. 

What Trindent has found is that when there are no proper quality control steps built into the process, verification and correction ends up becoming the responsibility of the last department to touch the application before it heads out the door, creating a bottleneck that leads to longer processing time and decreased turnaround.   Gatekeepers at the end of the process become de facto checkers of quality and fixers of errors – a responsibility that’s not factored into their output targets and one that goes well beyond their mandate.  Often, department managers are not aware this a problem because it’s become status quo and the lost time it creates was long ago factored into the service level.

Quality Control Alone Isn’t Enough

The obvious solution to improve this inefficiency would be to establish quality control checks earlier on in the process; for example, the implementation of checklists or verification steps to ensure that work is complete and accurate before an application moves to a subsequent department.   However, implementing quality checks isn’t a complete solution; it’s a only first step that should lead to addressing the underlying causes of the error, and this is where the power of feedback comes in.  

When there is no system in place to give feedback to the person or team making the errors, then the errors will continue, as will the time lost to verification and rework bottlenecks.  Finding the errors early in the process is good, but there needs to be a way to prevent the errors from persisting.  Feedback is the key to this.

Feedback plays an important part in Active Management and allows team leaders to connect with their staff on performance.  While feedback can – and should – be used as a tool for positive reinforcement, in cases of errors and rework it is a communication tool to be used to ensure mistakes don’t continue. 

When a quality control check uncovers an error, an active manager should use feedback to:

  • Let their employee or team know the error has been made.  If someone is unaware they’ve made an error, they won’t know to avoid repeating it.
  • Work with the employee or team to understand why the error occurred.  Was it a one-time mistake?  Is there a flaw in the process that needs to be addressed?  Is there coaching or training that should take place?
  • Implement changes to avoid repetition of the error.
  • Follow up to make sure the underlying cause of the error has been eliminated.  At this point, feedback can again be used as a positive reinforcement tool to motivate the employee or team to adopt the improved, error-free behaviour.

If quality control is 80% in the 80/20 rule, then feedback is the remaining 20%.  This last piece of the puzzle is designed to facilitate continuous improvement in efforts to diminish errors and decrease time lost to rework.

In past engagements, Trindent clients have seen a reduction in error rates, increase in quality, and better overall turnaround time and customer satisfaction with active management training for their team leaders. 

Click here to find out more about how Trindent can help your organization harness the power of feedback.