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Whether working with permanent employees or the seasonal intern, feedback is an important aspect of the workplace. Positive or negative. In fact, 60% of employees want more feedback on a weekly or even daily basis. So, if your employees are begging for more feedback, it makes sense that interns (whose job it is to learn and grow) want it just as much, if not more. But, how do you make that happen? Bring in the feedback loop.

A feedback loop is exactly what it implies; a cycle that starts with the intern giving feedback to you and ends with you giving feedback to the intern. But, it’s not quite that simple. There are certain steps you can take that will help make the progress more successful for everyone. Here’s what to do:

1. Conduct Evaluations
The number of times you conduct these evaluations all depends on the length of your internship program. However, there should be at least two mandatory evaluations with your interns. You may be familiar with the regular “annual review,” however 45% of HR leaders do not think annual performance reviews are an accurate appraisal for employee’s work. That is why having them more frequently, especially with interns, is a must. Many interns may not even be with you for a full year. We recommend conducting evaluations at 30–45 days and again at 90–120 days for interns.

This allows you to discuss strengths and areas for improvement and gives interns a chance to give feedback on your processes. This is where the conversation truly starts. Without providing a way for you, the intern, and others to get together and discuss things, it can be hard to know what is working and what isn’t. This space is perfect for getting the ball rolling and creating an environment where, as an employer, you can then guide and mentor them on certain things that you may not be able to do on a daily basis. Have a standardized template or scale on which to assess interns, so you can compare apples to apples.

2. Ask for their Input
You can do this in the evaluations (above) or in many other ways. Assign some feedback time in weekly meetings, use your intern management software to solicit feedback, ask them privately via email or implement a pulse survey that you send out regularly. What do interns say about their experience? But, don’t expect them to just come out with any issues they may have. Be sure to encourage and support their feedback, and actually ask them, “What did you think of this?”
Here are some questions you can use to get your interns talking:

  • Do you have any concerns with our management style?
  • What areas are you finding more difficult?
  • How can I, or our team, better support you?
  • What goals do you have while working for the company?
  • Are there certain tasks you would like to take on?
  • What has your overall experience been like? Likes, dislikes.
  • What was your favorite rotation? Least favorite?

To note: Be aware of feedback that appears over and over. When one or two interns in a large class say you have an issue, you may want to look into it. If you hear something from more than 4–5 people, you really need to investigate and make changes to optimize your intern program.

3. Process the Information
Soliciting feedback from your employees or your interns is useless if you make no changes to your program. Processing the information in a timely manner is the only way to actually build the feedback loop your interns and employees crave. Take notes on formal and informal intern feedback and share it with your team, including hiring managers and recruiters. Up to 80% of an organization’s opportunity for improvement comes from front-line employee ideas. So, it’s important to take this feedback and other ideas seriously and work to make any changes.

Refusing to process the information or taking too long to act on info, can adversely affect your employer brand. People talk. If you were made known of issues and refused to change them, others will know about it. Meaning, your future recruitment ventures may suffer as a result. Process their feedback thoroughly and realize how important it is to the company’s brand and reputation as a whole.

4. Triage where you can impact your internship program
Once you understand what needs to be done, what is of most importance in changing, etc. you need to get together and brainstorm with your team. Are these changes realistic? Is there data to gather? You cannot make every change at once, but you can address issues that are important like management problems, lack of productivity or interesting projects, or lack of oversight.

Fix what you can within your internship programs and improve incrementally every time you receive additional feedback.

5. Give Your Own Feedback
This is the final step in the feedback loop and probably the most important. You’ve gotten together with your team, made a plan, and even reassured the intern that their feedback and issues are being addressed. So, now what? Let them know what you did! This is especially true if your intern has already left the company. Send them an email explaining what was changed. This is a great way to stay connected, reinforce your employer brand and increase the impact on other employees as well.

Feedback is always helpful. This rings even more true with interns who may only spend a few months with your company. Since their stay is short, you want to be able to make the best impression possible. Acknowledging and sticking to a feedback loop is a great way to help the company reputation, perfect your intern to employee process and further propel employee engagement.

“Feedback allows for correction and communication that would not be there otherwise. It also creates a golden opportunity to develop your employees and help them succeed. According to Gallup, 98% of employees fail to be engaged when managers give little or no feedback.” — Michael Heller, iRevü

Need more insight on how you can recruit, interact with, and manage your interns? Interns who convert to permanent employees tend to be higher performers, have longer retention rates, and are promoted more quickly than those coming through conventional recruiting channels.