A critical ingredient in your culture transformation is fostering direct & continuous feedback because it will improve collaboration, increase performance, and drive retention. In this post, we share simple steps to start building a feedback culture at your organization…and why it matters!
Whether good or bad, feedback is one of the best ways for us to know if we’re doing something right or wrong. And while it’s a must for a healthy culture, still not every business has guidelines about when or how feedback is provided. A strong feedback culture welcomes feedback and uses it to foster the growth of individuals, teams, and the organization. In a feedback-friendly culture, employee voices are valued.
And to become more effective and fulfilled at work, people need a keen understanding of their impact on others and the extent to which they’re achieving their goals. That’s called feedback, and direct feedback is the most efficient way for them to gather this information and learn from it. Typically, this information — what we like to call intel on our efforts — comes in three forms:
Appreciation…recognition for great work. Appreciation connects and motivates people, and it’s vital since intrinsic motivation is one of the critical factors for higher performance.
Coaching for Continuous Improvement…helping someone expand their knowledge, skills and capabilities. Coaching is also an opportunity to address concerns, feelings, or ideas, which helps balance and strengthen relationships.
Evaluation…more formally assessing someone against a set of standards, aligning expectations and informing decision-making.
Why a Feedback Culture is Important
Even people who aren’t interested in or skilled at giving or receiving feedback will participate in the process and improve when they’re working in a feedback-rich environment.
On the flip side, even the most ardent and capable of feedback champions will give up if the organizational or team culture doesn’t support their efforts. So in addition to helping your more reserved team members improve, feedback carries with it a slew of benefits. Here are just three of the most important.
Feedback Saves Time, Money & Resources
It’s estimated that a company of 10,000 employees spends a staggering $35 million a year to conduct performance appraisals. Yet 9 in 10 managers are dissatisfied with how their companies conduct annual performance reviews, and nearly 90 percent HR leaders say the process doesn’t yield accurate information. Moreover, the average manager spends about 210 hours a year on activities related to reviews. That’s more than 26 work days.
However, when you supplement performance reviews with ongoing, real-time feedback, you can help ease the pressure and expense of the annual review. When you think about performance reviews, it’s really just an aggregation of all the feedback data an employee should have received throughout the year.
Better Performance in a Feedback Culture
Now, imagine the loss in productivity throughout that year when that employee doesn’t receive ongoing intel on his/her efforts throughout the year. When you save it for an annual performance review, you’re missing out on opportunities where your employee could have been improving.
When employees enjoy their work, understand their goals, and know the values and competencies of the job, performance increases. The link between effective feedback and productivity has been well established. One study found that 69 percent of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized. Continuous feedback helps align goals, clarifies expectations, and motivates employees. It also creates a positive workplace, one dedicated to encouraging people to be better will improve the level of performance and employee engagement.
Strengthened Interpersonal Relationships
Engaging in open feedback and dialogue with colleagues, recognizing efforts after a job well done, and helping employees meet their goals will help create meaningful workplace relationships. Fostering these types of relationships among employees is a driver both for improved collaboration within and across teams as well as for retention.
Once a foundation of feedback has been set, sustaining it will become easier with each feedback conversation. Here’s how the experts say to do it.
How to Build a Continuous Feedback Culture
To foster an environment of both personal and professional growth, people need to feel safe about giving and receiving feedback. A feedback culture is a fluid, two-way exchange between employees as well as employees and management. The end goal is a safe space where employees feel comfortable voicing their concerns, suggestions, and advancement plans while employers are equally able to express constructive feedback.
A healthy feedback culture is one where feedback is the norm rather than a signal that something is wrong. That means when improvements are needed, asking for change won’t come off as awkward or out of the blue for either staff or employers. Instead, you’ll be able to enhance business processes while empowering employees to excel in their roles. Here are some ways you can start embedding a continuous feedback culture into your workplace.
- Set and reinforce expectations during onboarding, performance reviews, manager 1:1s, town halls, and department meetings for giving, receiving, and using constructive feedback.
- Train people to focus on the quality of the feedback. It’s worth noting that there is a difference between good and bad feedback. Encouraging people to say “good job” isn’t going to improve employee performance or build an effective feedback culture. Building a culture of feedback starts with providing meaningful feedback – that is, feedback that is behavior based (not trait-based), forward looking (instead of backward), objective, continuous, in real-time and direct.
- Create multiple channels for giving and receiving feedback…like newsletters, email inboxes, surveys, town halls, office hours and more. Some folks like to write it out, while others prefer vocalizing — be inclusive of how you solicit and provide feedback.
- Couple feedback with recognition so that employees associate feedback with a positive form of reinforcement. It will help reinforce the kind of behaviors that are helping move the organization.
- Make it routine. When feedback happens routinely, it becomes expected. Hold employees accountable by incorporating feedback giving and receiving KPIs. Ensure that managers are having regular feedback conversations and check-ins with their direct reports. Moreover, encourage employees to ask and share feedback.
As a rule of thumb, more frequent, directionally correct but incomplete feedback outperforms more detailed and accurate but less frequent feedback. This means that consistency and iteration are what makes feedback good.
When asking or giving feedback, many refer to the 30/60/90 Feedback Framework. It states that one should receive feedback when a task is 30% complete, again at 60% complete, and finally at 90% complete.
Transforming your culture into one built on continuous feedback can propel your teams to approach tasks from a different perspective and find new solutions to your company’s biggest challenges. And the first step in your culture transformation is a team culture mapping, where we’ll help you unlock the behaviors, motivators, and work energizers of your team so you can empower better performance.