Can a recent AI breakthrough help you give better feedback?

Noah Duncan
October 27, 2021
7
Minutes

Giving feedback is one of the most impactful things you can do as a manager and yet it can also be one of the most difficult parts of the role. Knowing who needs feedback and when, learning how each direct report responds to different forms of feedback, even just remembering to write the feedback, can be so overwhelming that many managers fall behind on this incredibly important practice. 


Recent studies have shown that a whopping 65% of employees want more feedback than they’re getting. A separate study even found that 57% of people prefer corrective feedback to purely praise and recognition. So not only do your employees want more feedback, they want constructive feedback that can be so stressful to communicate. The bad news is that there probably isn’t any article or podcast or self-help book that will magically eliminate all of the real-time hurdles to building a culture of feedback. Bad feedback habits develop not only because giving feedback is challenging but also because it can be easy for such a stressful task to fall off your list of priorities when there are so many other things to remember.


The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. Recent advances in artificial intelligence have made it possible to leave the mundane copywriting to the computers and focus on the finishing touches that help you and your direct reports work better together. FeedbackAI by WorkPatterns can now harness the power of artificial intelligence to improve and expedite your informal feedback workflow. 


The tech: Natural language processing (NLP), OpenAI and GPT-3 


According to a study by Marketing Charts, artificial intelligence (AI) has incredible potential to transform dozens of industries over the next few years by taking over complex tasks that previously required heavy human interaction. Artificial intelligence can now do things like design survey questions, find insights from data, and arguably most impressively, learn and mimic human speech for sensitive communication such as constructive criticism


📚 A guide to constructive feedback. Tips for super managers!

So what exactly is AI and how does it write feedback? 


Natural language processing (NLP) is a subfield of Artificial Intelligence concerned with the analysis and synthesis of text or speech. Until recently, NLP has not had the dramatic improvements seen in other areas of AI such as game playing or image processing. However, with new advances in the technology, it’s fair to say that NLP has entered a new paradigm.


These advances include GPT-3, an advanced AI system that produces natural language. The system was developed by OpenAI, an AI research and deployment company whose mission is to ensure that general-purpose artificial intelligence benefits all of humanity


GPT-3 is a massive NLP model whose main innovation over its predecessors is the sheer quantity of training data (570 billion gigabytes of text). The model is trained to do one task: complete the text given in a prompt. This format can be applied to many use cases. For example, to use GPT-3 to classify the categories a business belongs to you could give it the following prompt:


The following is a list of companies and the categories they fall into:


Facebook: Social media, Technology

LinkedIn: Social media, Technology, Enterprise, Careers

Uber: Transportation, Technology, Marketplace

Unilever: Conglomerate, Consumer Goods

Mcdonalds: Food, Fast Food, Logistics, Restaurants

FedEx:


When asked to complete this prompt, GPT-3 will output the text: “Logistics, Transportation”.


The most stunning thing about GPT-3 is the range of prompts that it works well for. The model has been used to classify text, make sarcastic chatbots, generate SQL queries and write your feedback. 


How WorkPatterns is harnessing the power of GPT-3 


At WorkPatterns, we’ve developed a feature that uses GPT-3 to make it easier for managers and employees to articulate constructive feedback. By simply selecting adjectives that describe the scenario that you want to give feedback on, we’ll provide a few examples of how to phrase feedback that addresses the scenario.

For example, if you choose the adjectives ‘detail-oriented’ as a strength and ‘communication’ as weakness, we might generate the following examples:


“When you are working on a task, you are diligent about following the directions and making sure you have all the details you need to get the job done. You are also very thoughtful about how to organize your time and plan for upcoming tasks. One area where you could improve is in communicating status updates to your team. I know you are very conscientious about not wasting your team’s time, but sometimes you are so focused on being thorough that you forget to communicate that you’re making progress.”


“You’ve done a great job keeping a steady stream of updates flowing about what you’re working on and how it’s going. I’ve been very happy with how you’ve been keeping me in the loop about what’s going on with your projects. One area I want to make sure you’re aware of is that sometimes your updates can come across as a bit curt and lacking context. When you’re focused on the details, it’s easy to forget to explain the broader picture of why your work matters. Try to be a little more mindful of your tone when you’re sharing updates, and try to provide a bit more context for why a piece of work matters.”


“I’ve noticed that you’re very detail-oriented and you’re great at reviewing and correcting details. I think you could be more effective if you spent more time communicating the big picture. Your perfectionism can be your strength, but it can also be your weakness. You might be so focused on the details that you lose sight of the bigger picture. This is especially true when you’re working in a team. Make sure that when you communicate that you’re aware of and incorporate the bigger picture in your updates.”



The suggestions are intended to be used as drafts. We expect that you’ll need to spend a minute or two adding personal touches and teaching the AI your specific tone and speech patterns. For example, for these generated prompts you may want to add some information on the specific projects the report is struggling with or rapport building personal details you may remember from a 1:1. 


By removing the friction associated with starting a piece of feedback and the awkwardness that comes with communicating constructive feedback, Feedback AI simplifies your feedback workflow and makes it easier to be the manager you’ve always wanted to be.


Getting Started with FeedbackAI


Have we convinced you to let the robots do the heavy lifting in your feedback workflow? Are you at least a little curious about how this feature works? Follow the steps below to create your free WorkPatterns account, invite your direct reports and start giving better, more efficient feedback.


  1. Create WorkPatterns account 

 The account is free for the first two weeks. All we need is a work email and a desire to be your team’s favorite manager, ever.


  1. Invite your direct reports

Feedback doesn’t have a single-player mode so invite your direct reports to join you on your quest for stress-free feedback. Once they’ve accepted your invite, you can asynchronously add discussion topics for your next 1:1, assign action items and keep track of feedback all in one tool.


  1. Give great feedback in just a few clicks
  • Select the adjectives that best describe strengths and weaknesses for the person you are giving feedback to.

Select strengths and opportunities


  • Using those inputs, FeedbackAI will author a few options of constructive feedback in sentence format.

Select the AI suggestion that works best


  • Customize the text by adding personal context and specific examples.

Feedback in just a few clicks!


  • FeedbackAI's machine learning will learn from your edits and adapt to your communication style over time so giving feedback gets even more streamlined the more you use it.

Adopt continuous feedback with FeedbackAI by WorkPatterns

WorkPatterns provides One on Ones, Team Collaboration, Feedback, Recognition & Goals — all in one place. With WorkPatterns, you can manage meeting agendas with clear schedules and action items, build rapport with virtual teammates, and communicate effectively. 


Want to keep learning? Follow our Blog, which is dedicated to improving workplace relationships, and please reach out to our team at any time. We love hearing from you!


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