Giving and receiving feedback in a professional setting is valuable because it helps people become more effective at their jobs. It facilitates smooth workflows and communication. It even creates a sense of camaraderie and unification among team members.
If that’s the case, then why don’t more people do it? Because feedback can feel uncomfortable to provide and receive. Often, it feels easier to just stay quiet, maintain the status quo, and leave feedback to incidental conversations. As a result, companies miss out on key opportunities for exponential improvement.
The truth is, feedback is not the result of two great communicators coming together to exchange opinions. Feedback is the result of a company culture where giving and receiving feedback is encouraged and promoted. In a true culture of feedback, any employee can comfortably participate in speaking up to share their thoughts and observations.
First, What is a culture of feedback?
A culture of feedback is a culture in which exchanging both positive feedback and critical feedback is a normal part of everyday life at a company.
Imagine the following scenario: Company A has a culture of feedback. Company B, on the other hand, has a culture where feedback is discouraged in favor of maintaining the status quo.
In Company A, a conversation between two team members about a project turns into a moment of critical feedback. The result of this conversation? Improved workflows and ultimately, a better outcome for this particular project. In Company B, the same conversation takes place. The result? Tension, offense, and ultimately, a standstill on the project.
The point is, a culture of feedback has manifold benefits. Here are a few:
Improvement in outcomes
When delivered well, feedback is constructive. It doesn’t just criticize a particular employee’s performance or a poor workflow; it offers a potential solution, or at the very least, invites a solution. That being the case, feedback helps to identify and quickly resolve a company’s weak spots… and ultimately, improves outcomes.
Whether your company has five people or 500 people, clear and effective communication is critical. A culture of feedback promotes healthier communication by increasing trust between team members and teaching employees how to proactively problem-solve through giving feedback.
A greater sense of ownership & satisfaction
When you create a space for team members to share feedback and have their voices heard, they gain a greater sense of ownership in the business. Creating a culture of feedback communicates that you value every team member’s voice and want them to be a part of moving the company forward.
Receiving feedback supports the professional and personal development of your individual employees. Feedback helps employees to learn both their strengths and weaknesses… and ultimately, to become more effective for the rest of their working lives.
Higher employee retention
Finally, a culture of feedback can help decrease turnover in your business. Employees who can openly share feedback with one another are more likely to be satisfied in their jobs, and more committed to the company. Not only that, but a culture of feedback helps address root issues and problematic behaviors or workflows that cause employees to leave in the first place.
Building a culture of feedback
By now, you know that a culture of feedback can bring innumerable benefits to your business – including improved outcomes, healthier communication, improved employee performance, and more.
So, how do you actually build a culture of feedback at your company? When your company already has an established culture that doesn’t involve feedback, you’ll want to be strategic in how you approach change. If your business is brand-new, you’ll want to introduce a culture of feedback early on to integrate it into the company ethos.
In either case, you’ll want to build a culture of feedback using the following strategies.
Make feedback routine
Feedback should be the norm. That, however, is easier said than done. To become routine, feedback needs to be integrated into regular company processes in a way that’s convenient and accessible for employees…otherwise, it won’t happen.
Nailted is a web-based product that can help you make feedback routine at your company by:
- Allowing you to create a weekly cycle of recognition between employees, giving team members the ability to acknowledge another’s excellence through digital “claps.” This creates a fun, ongoing practice of recognizing each other’s accomplishments.
- Creating optionally anonymous “pulse surveys” that allow team members to give the company feedback.
- Running “check-ins” to help get individual assessments of a team member’s progress and personal goals.
- And more…
Ultimately, Nailted can help you create a culture of feedback at your company by making feedback normative. Not only that, but it can help you integrate feedback into your processes in a way that’s strategic – helping you to turn feedback into concrete solutions and improvements.
Build trust from the top down
Generally speaking, employees won’t give feedback in a company environment that doesn’t feel safe. Team members need to know that being honest or authentic won’t jeopardize their jobs or generate negative backlash. Likewise, recipients also need to feel safe to receive feedback in a healthy way.
That’s why a sense of trust is so vital to a healthy culture of feedback.
Trust begins with working under leadership that feels safe. Many of us know what it’s like to have a manager or boss that doesn’t feel safe; these leaders use their authority to manipulate or create an atmosphere of fear in the company. Even the best bosses may be unintentionally creating an environment where maintaining the status quo, instead of sharing feedback, rules.
Here are leadership tips to build a sense of trust from the top down:
- Talk about emotions. Acknowledge feelings of frustration or disappointment, and ask team members about their own emotions regarding specific incidents or projects.
- Ask for feedback. Ask employees for personal feedback. Letting them know that it’s safe to share authentic thoughts and opinions with leadership makes it safer to share feedback with other team members.
- Talk about effort, not performance. Reward effort, not just ability. That helps create a culture where all employees – not just the most skilled or seasoned – have an opportunity to receive positive feedback.
Ultimately, when leaders model feedback well, team members know that it’s safe to follow…and feel released to share their thoughts and opinions with others.
Encourage all types of feedback
When someone hears the word “feedback,” they often think immediately of “criticism.”
But as mentioned above, feedback can also look like positive recognition. Encourage employees to acknowledge each other’s successes, however small or large. Make sure your team members know that feedback is not only intended to seek improvement, but also to reinforce positive performances, skill sets, and behaviors.
Sustaining a culture of feedback
A successful culture of feedback is sustainable. Don’t integrate practices that aren’t practical in the long run. Instead, automate a process (such as with Nailted’s weekly recognition cycle and pulse surveys) that makes feedback second nature to your team members. In the end, you’ll see powerful results: happier employees, improved processes and performance, and a culture that values everyone’s voice.