Creating a Feedback Culture

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

I think we can all agree that a culture where feedback can be given and received freely is what can create a top-notch place to work. However, knowing and doing are two different things. There are all kinds of excuses on why we don’t take personal responsibility in being an advocate for this type of environment.

Granted, it is hard to do if you are just one person who holds little authority but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t lead the way. Who knows what kind of impact you could make by being a good listener and taking on feedback with enthusiasm? Or is the type of person that the team can lean on for advice that is well-meaning and positive whether it goes against the grain or not.

Creating an atmosphere of positivity encourages employee growth, higher performance, and satisfaction. One of the best ways to raise employee morale and a great place to work is with a “feedback culture”. Whether you are one person or many, we all know how it feels to be in that type of environment.

Happy and engaged employees are ones who feel comfortable sharing what they think about the company, management, and other employees. The environment turns from feeling critical or being judged, to one of collaboration and dare I say it, team spirit, where we are all in it …well…to win it!

Even though people genuinely understand the value of feedback, it happens so rarely. And when it does, it is late in the game or is only offered when someone has made a large mistake or an error in judgment. Instead of creating a great culture, employees feel undervalued and misunderstood. All things that could easily be resolved by embracing the concept of giving and receiving feedback in a proactive and consistent nature.

Creating a Feedback Culture is one where all employees from the bottom to the top engage in the sharing of honest information and ideas for improvement. It does mean there needs to be some common sense when sharing and receiving feedback. If you know me or have followed me for a while then you know what I’m about to say. Speaking and listening with positive intent is always the right way to go. When sharing feedback, one must say what is true to them but in a way that it can be heard and understood. And when receiving feedback, one must hear what is being said from the perspective that the person is sharing for improvement and to see you or the team succeed. They aren’t saying what they are saying to attack you.

It’s best if the management and leadership team lead the way. Leading by example by engaging in a proactive feedback model. This means that as manager feedback is given often. The purpose of consistent feedback is so the team understands if they are on track, if they are working well or if there are areas for correction. It’s much easier to course-correct if they are provided feedback early and often versus at the end of their work. It’s also helpful for them to hear they are doing well for those who are unsure if they are on the right path.

But what if management doesn’t lead the way? I firmly believe we can all be examples of how to give and receive feedback. Don’t shy away from it, lean into it. Tell your teammate you like their work. Speak up in meetings with suggestions. If they are shot down, take it with grace. If someone else plucks up the nerve, tell them you like the way they think.

Building this culture requires people to ask for feedback. Asking others for ideas, suggestions, and how they feel things are, is a great way to ensure one’s quality of work is to a high standard. Not all ideas and suggestions might be appropriate, but they can certainly lead to thinking a bit broader and open the door for improvement.

As a manager, you should get quite nervous if you have a team that always agrees with you and has nothing to say. I know that’s going to hit some of you hard, but honestly, you can accomplish more and have even better outcomes if ideas come from collaboration or the perspective that the best thought wins no matter who it came from. But you have to be gracious, accepting, willing to listen to others for that to happen.

The ultimate objective of a feedback culture is to bring teams closer together to function at a higher level. To have a team where they learn from one another, are happy and engaged with their work and those around them. So whether you are riding solo or leading the entire organization, get started. No more excuses, look for ways to build up your team through feedback.