Good company culture relies on open and honest communication. This is only really possible with an effective feedback process in place that empowers employees to contribute feedback with ease and offers insights to employers on where things can be improved. Building this kind of culture is not always straightforward though.
In this article, we offer tips and guidance for implementing a progressive feedback culture within your organization.
The benefits of a strong feedback culture
A company culture that includes good feedback processes helps clarify expectations, align individual and cross-company goals and motivate employees overall. Not surprisingly, motivated employees are more productive, and a positive workplace that encourages its people to be better will always see higher levels of performance and employee engagement.
Companies with a strong feedback culture usually see:
- Reduced turnover
- Improved communication
- Increased employee morale
- Increased productivity
- Financial improvements
Considering that encouraging feedback leads to a win-win situation of employees feeling valued, and therefore being more loyal, creating a culture where honest feedback is encouraged and talent is invested in (rather than exploited) should be at the top of your HR agenda. So, let’s reveal our 4 top tips for implementing a feedback culture.
1. First steps to building a feedback culture from the ground up
Implementing a feedback culture is a long-term process that requires constant encouragement and ongoing practice. The first step is creating organizational standards around what your feedback culture looks like and reinforcing these standards consistently.
To start setting these expectations, give some thought to where you can start integrating feedback into existing processes. Clearly identify the who, what, when, where and how of your feedback process to ensure clear direction is given, feedback is normalized sooner, and employees quickly feel comfortable giving and receiving feedback.
Communicating why a good feedback culture is important
When asking employees to provide feedback, they need to know the purpose and goals. Whether it’s for fostering an individual’s growth or a major organizational change, ensure your people know why their feedback is required.
Additionally, once a decision or change has been made in line with insights gained, close the feedback loop by letting people know that the objective of the feedback was met and acted on. This way, employees see that the feedback is worth their time and can actually influence the direction the company takes.
Who is involved in feedback processes?
Although “everyone in the company” is the right answer, defining exactly who is involved in the feedback process and at which point ensures accountability and allows each individual voice to be heard.
While formalized one-to-one feedback from management is generally expected by employees, and still an important part of an effective feedback culture, all employees should be encouraged to provide feedback freely. Equipped with easy ways to provide feedback, and encouraged to do so whenever they feel the need, employees will start giving insights into your organization that you might not have realised until now.
Similarly, creating an environment where feedback is actioned, regardless of who gave it, is also important for a growing feedback culture.
When does feedback happen?
A thriving feedback culture requires a continuous feedback process. Encourage employees to request and give feedback whenever they need to, so issues can be addressed in real-time. For the less vocal employees, more formalised and periodic feedback sessions should be defined, such as bi-monthly team check-ins or quarterly surveys.
Where is feedback given?
Besides providing employees with the necessary feedback tools and channels to easily and effectively provide opinions, it’s also worth considering the types of feedback contexts available. Some settings are more effective than others, depending on the giver and receiver, but options should be available to ensure staff feel comfortable with the feedback sessions.
Consider these types of setups and see where they can be implemented and encouraged:
- Written versus in-person feedback
- Anonymous versus attributed feedback
- One-on-one versus team feedback
- Individual feedback sessions versus group feedback sessions
How do employees provide feedback?
Defining exactly how feedback is gathered ensures employees follow the right channels and procedures. Beyond adopting and implementing feedback tools, people need to feel free to share feedback with each other and the company without fear of repercussions. Companies need to create a safe feedback environment for employees to openly speak out. This kind of psychological safety is necessary for ensuring the feedback you get from employees is honest and meaningful.
The leadership team must understand the value of leading with vulnerability and taking on board both positive and negative feedback. Sessions that include constructive criticism should be encouraged – a balanced approach helps ensure feedback is holistic and meaningful.
Once you’ve defined the above parameters and set the tone for your feedback culture, it’s time to hit the ground running.
2. Good feedback culture starts at the top
Leaders, managers and supervisors need to know that feedback is a necessary part of any working relationship, beyond typical annual reviews, and that they’re responsible for ensuring that their team members receive both positive and constructive feedback, to encourage positive behaviour or correct any performance issues before they become problematic.
It’s worth considering what different employee generations expect when it comes to feedback and to use these expectations to take your feedback further. For example, a study has shown that 80% of Gen Y employees expect regular feedback. Leaders should be receptive to the feedback process and champion it amongst their people. When employees see leaders modelling strong feedback behaviour, they’re more likely to follow suit.
Similarly, leaders should move away from receiving feedback for feedback’s sake, and actively encourage feedback that’s aimed at identifying areas for improvement. From here, they need to demonstrate that feedback received is actioned, by being transparent about how they intend to implement change in accordance with the feedback given.
Holding higher-ups accountable for giving and receiving feedback in their respective teams and encouraging them to provide performance-based and forward-looking feedback, as opposed to trait-based and reactive, can take your feedback efforts further. When leaders are actively adapting to culture changes, soon employees across the hierarchy will too.
3. The importance of training
Giving and receiving feedback is a skill that needs to be developed and honed. Appropriate training can’t be overlooked. To support your feedback culture, equip employees with training, in the form of workshops and resources, so everyone is on the same page on how best to handle feedback.
Culture shifts take time, and fostering a good feedback culture won’t happen overnight. But by providing the right tools, guidance and encouragement, your company will be well on the way to adapting to its new feedback culture and seeing the fruits of its investment.
4. The right feedback tools
Giving and receiving feedback should be made simple for employees, so integrating feedback with your existing day-to-day operations and providing people with the right tools should be the goal. In some instances, a shared spreadsheet can be sufficient, but leveraging dedicated employee engagement and experience software can really transform your feedback culture.
The benefit of these engagement tools is that past feedback can be reviewed for reporting purposes and leveraged to streamline future conversations between employees. A technology partner like Tivian can facilitate the feedback process through centralized tools, giving employees an easy way to participate and easing the administrative work of HR teams in gathering and analyzing the feedback.
With solutions like Tivian’s, you can launch feedback surveys and get your results instantly with intuitive dashboards that provide relevant analytics that guide you towards the actions that matter.
Implementing and fostering a solid feedback culture in your organisation is an unavoidable step in securing future business growth. Employees thrive in environments where they feel their voices are heard and inputs actioned by leadership, and this leads to better staff performance and decreased turnover rates.
While you start defining what your own organization’s feedback culture should look like, start exploring the best digital tools to use.
Tivian can help. Our insightful Employee Experience management solutions streamline employee conversations across organisations. Talk to our team about how our solutions can help you on your journey.