The Feedback Learning Continuum: Feedback as fuel for learning, and learning as fuel for feedback

Leadership in support of lifelong learning

One of the most important parts of being a leader and manager is to facilitate regular feedback for your team.

Effective leaders understand that there is a strong correlation between feedback and learning.

Giving feedback may not always be easy. However, that should not stop leaders from giving their team feedback that requires them to consider behaviour changes. Such feedback initiates the cycle of new insight, learning, application and results which is the only way to improve the value of each individual, team and the company.

Leaders must think of feedback as fuel for growth and learning. You may think of it is as a continuous process, which, if used correctly will help steer individuals to develop and apply their skills to be their best self.  Let’s take a detailed look at the “Feedback Learning Continuum” and how each element serves as fuel for learning, growth, curiosity, and new insight.

The Feedback Learning Continuum


the feedback learning continuum


The Capability Development Cycle

1. Adjusting,  Predictive, Corrective or Critical Feedback Event

Adjusting feedback is feedback that prompts for a change in the observed behaviour of the employee. The findings from a recent study prove that adjusting feedback is crucial for growth and therefore, should not be avoided.

A Zenger and Folkman’s survey found that seemingly negative feedback, when delivered appropriately is effective at improving performance. Leaders that shy away from providing adjusting or critical feedback to avoid potential awkwardness or conflict do so at the expense of their employee and team’s performance. They deny their employees the fuel that could ignite a positive change in performance. Furthermore, team members resent managers being soft on poor performance.

2. Anxiety or urgency to learn and improve

Feedback that prompts for changed or new behaviours is likely to generate some level of anxiety or at least pressure through urgency on the part of the employee.

A good leader will discuss the best next steps when providing feedback that highlights the need for change. They will give feedback in such a way to foretell or illustrate the desired outcome giving certainty of what success looks like. In giving feedback to help the recipient, leaders should connect feedback to action; in this case micro-learning.

Where the employee can take action rapidly and autonomously any anxiety experienced will be minimized and lead time to improvement will be short.

3. Micro-learning as directed by leaders

Micro-learning is one of the best performance tools for rapid results, mainly due to the ease of use, the short and concise length and a focus mainly on a single learning objective. Due to technological advancements in e-learning micro-learning courses are easy to share and are easily accessible on mobile devices, which makes it convenient for leaders to provide performance support material and for workers to consume it promptly.

Another advantage of micro-learning as a performance support tool is that it is a just in time resource, meaning that learners can apply what they have learned immediately. Micro-learning content can be delivered in different formats including text, images, videos, audio, and animation.

Mixed media and a succession of micro-learning experiences on a topic help with understanding, retention and recall.

Micro-learning that includes quizzes, tests or reflection can quickly build the confidence and competence of an employee around a personal learning need.

4. Applied Learning

After learning the specific objective from the micro-learning course employees can progress to the applied learning stage. Applied learning refers to the approach where employees, learners, or students learn from using the skill or knowledge that they have previously acquired in their micro-learning course.

Leaders should treat applied learning as a demonstration by the employee of what they have learned from earlier feedback and the performance support tools.

Observing the application of learning is how leaders can identify and gauge new levels of performance, which will be the basis of further feedback they will give to the employee.

Strength development cycle

5. Affirming or Encouragement Feedback Event

Where the employee is showing strengths or emerging skills, the manager or leader can provide positive or affirming feedback or recognition to the employee.

This type of affirmation and encouragement is vital to fuel increased motivation to continue the new behaviour or make additional improvements.

Studies show that between 6 and 11 times more encouragement than criticism will keep employees in the flourishing zone where they are delivering their best performance.

6. Curiosity to Learn More

The aim of encouragement is to show a sense of progress for the employee and to encourage them to learn more in the areas of their strengths and interests.

This is where the leader (or someone else in the workplace) provides the necessary coaching, mentoring and support to help the employee on their lifelong learning journey.

7. Micro-learning in pursuit of mastery

Micro-learning in the strength development cycle is likely to be more self-directed than where capability development is needed.  Supporting self-directed learning requires a diversity of micro-learning content and effective discovery tools.

Feedback analytics and learning goals can help organizations ensure that the learning materials provided in the learning platform support the learning aspirations of their workers.

8. Applied Learning

With continuous learning, performance expectations lift.  Added responsibilities and stretch may break the cycle of self-driven development and require some directed learning or else the application of new skills becomes an opportunity to seek more feedback in areas where the employee is passionate to develop.

Thus, the “Feedback-Learning Continuum” goes on!


Performance management is an on-going process that is fueled by repeating cycles of feedback and learning. A healthy Feedback Learning Continuum is the foundation of the professional development of every employee irrespective of their role and position.  Sometimes this will take an employee around a more prescriptive cycle of capability development whilst at other times they will be in a self-directed cycle of strength development and the pursuit of mastery.

An effective employee experience platform (EXP) that combines feedback and learning is essential to the seamless implementation of the Feedback Learning Continuum.

We've done the hard work for you.

At Pay Compliment, we’ve done the hard work for you.  We’ve built an integrated employee experience platform that enables leaders, workers and your leadership team to foster a culture of feedback and learning.

Flexible to work with our curated learning content and your own specific micro-learning the platform is quick and cost-effective to implement.

Contact us today to learn more.

Comments (1) -

  • IurPuqgwQ

    10/20/2019 9:55:56 AM | Reply

    766868 732490I wan�t going to comment as this posts a bit old now, but just wanted to say thanks. 250191

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