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A Valuable Lesson from Sherlock Holmes: Continuous Feedback – A Performance Management Technique

Feedback delivery is an art that ought to be mastered by the management to create a ripple effect in the workforce. A study reports that around 51% of millennials expect regular feedback on their job. Continuously delivering constructive feedback encourages an employee to perform work better.  

Sherlock Holmes, a never out of style detective character, taught us not only how to solve a mystery but also how to coach someone. Sherlock Holmes and Watson are best buddies but, when it comes to work, Watson treats Holmes as his mentor and documents all their adventures with admiration. Let us apply their mentor-student bond to a manager-employee relationship to reap the complete benefits of Holmes’ coaching.  

Holmes’ Continuous Feedback on Work to Real-Time Coach Watson  

While solving cases together, Holmes and Watson work on different aspects of the case. Holmes guide Watson on how to proceed with the investigation. Whenever Watson overlooks a puzzle, Holmes connects it and explains the reasons for his actions to coach Watson to be a better investigator. Though Watson’s expertise is in the field of medicine, Holmes provides him the learning opportunity to upgrade his skill set by teaching him the techniques of investigation. 

Similarly, when a goal is set, the manager should not wait until an employee fails. A manager should help the employee in achieving his/her goal successfully by monitoring and providing continuous feedback to do a good job. Engaging employees with continuous feedback is an effective way to retain employees. Employees cannot stay in the same domain for a long time without upgrading their skills. It is also the responsibility of the managers to provide opportunities to the employees to improve their skills.

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The Impact of Continuous Feedback on Watson and Employees  

In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Watson did his own investigation as Holmes instructed and found Lara Lyons around the same time Holmes found her. Watson even surprised Holmes by finding him in his hut on the moors. The ability of observation and investigation of Watson improved a lot because of Holmes’ continuous feedback. Holmes even recognized it in the chapter and appreciated it with “Well done.” Watson loves to hear appreciation from Holmes, and so he felt satisfied when he was recognized. 

A manager should instantly recognize an employee’s efforts when he/she exceeds the expectations and achieves the goals. Instant recognition can be done through continuous feedback. The rewards and appreciation help to increase team collaboration and the morale of the workforce. The workforce, when feel valued, work harder to achieve the goals.    

Watson’s Receptiveness is the Reason for his Growth  

Watson was open-minded and receptive to feedback and listened carefully whenever Holmes rectified him. Watson focused on becoming as competent as Holmes in the field of investigation, and he was able to achieve it to an extent. He followed, “Aim for the sky, you may land among the stars.” This should be the attitude of the employees too. They should be willing to receive feedback and focus on their strengths and weaknesses to move ahead.  

The culture of radical candor, caring personally and challenging directly, should be followed by managers to deliver quality feedback. The purpose of feedback should never escape the mind of a manager. The manager’s influence and guidance should be felt by the employees while working on their projects like Watson felt Holmes’. That is one great quality of an effective manager. 

Continuous feedback helps an employee to produce quality work on-time. A report reveals that the replacement of annual reviews with continuous feedback has produced a 22% increase in the profitability of the company. Thus, taking Sherlock Holmes and Watson as a fictional example and try their methods in real-time management to produce outstanding results.