Encouraging feedback as part of your company culture

Encouraging feedback as part of your company culture
Jo Lee
Jo LeeJo Lee Coaching

Posted: Wed 21st Feb 2024

One of the main roles of a business leader is to set and nurture the culture of an organisation.

Feedback is an integral part of creating a culture of accountability and learning. Open and constructive conversations can play a key role in staff development and retention when it is done well.

A culture that encourages feedback tends to be a culture that is embodied by an environment of growth and healthy communication, where employees feel empowered to contribute and feel valued and heard.

The impact of embracing feedback as part of your company culture includes:

Increased staff engagement

Staff feel they have a voice in the workplace and are enthusiastic to contribute their ideas and perspectives to the conversation.

Increased staff retention

Staff feel listened to, respected and valued and are less likely to look for roles elsewhere when they feel they have a valuable contribution to make.

Enhanced performance

Staff understand where their strengths are and where there are areas for improvement. This means they can play to their strengths and focus on development where required so that each person becomes more effective.

There are three main types of feedback and it is helpful to know how to structure each to be most effective:

1. Positive feedback

Positive feedback is an opportunity to focus on an employee’s strengths, achievements and skills and recognise contributions, such as great attitude, effort or leadership.

Positive feedback serves to help an employee understand that they are doing a great job and to encourage them to keep going.

Top tip: Look for ways to be specific about the employee’s contribution and the positive impact it has had on the organisation and the workplace and look to give this feedback as frequently as possible.

2. Negative feedback

Negative feedback is the feedback that highlights what isn’t going so well and provides recommendations for improvement.

This is the most difficult feedback to receive, however, if it is given sensitively and with an offer of working collaboratively to create improvement then it can be the most effective for employee growth.

With negative feedback, it is always helpful to keep it as specific as possible. For example, a deadline that was missed or a report that missed the deadline rather than a global assessment of an employee’s competency. It is helpful to use this feedback as close to the event being addressed as possible.

3. Constructive feedback

Constructive feedback sits between positive and negative feedback and identifies an employee’s strengths while pointing out areas for improvement. It is most associated with appraisals or annual reviews where there is the opportunity to reflect on the whole picture of an employee’s contribution.

This is best composed by first concentrating on an employee’s strengths, then moving to an area which needs improvement and suggesting a collaborative approach so the employee feels supported in their growth.

With both negative and constructive feedback, it can be helpful to let a person hear what you need to say and then give them time to reflect and process so they can respond to what you have said rather than react in the moment.

Although logically we know we aren’t perfect, having it pointed out to us can often be painful and we need time to let that settle before we can discuss an effective way forward.

These types of feedback have the potential to become more commonplace in peer-to-peer feedback and leader-to-team feedback through effective one-to-one meetings and regular supervision with growth and development plans for each team member.

How easy is it though, for a leader, to receive honest feedback from their team and direct reports?

Do your staff feel that they can approach you and speak honestly about what is and more crucially, isn’t working with your leadership style?

Perhaps these questions would be a useful addition to your one-to-one catchups with your team as a way to prompt open and honest conversations that will build trust and stronger relationships.

Explain that you are genuinely curious about the answers and committed to learning and improving as a leader.

  • What is one thing that I do that you’d like me to continue to do?

  • What is one thing that I do that you’d like me to do less of?

  • What is one thing that I don’t do frequently that you’d like me to do more of?

  • What can I do to make you more effective?

  • What is it like living on the other side of me?

Some of what you hear will be encouraging and some might be challenging. Take notes and reflect before responding and look for patterns in your team’s responses.

Is there something universal that you might do differently or is there one team member who sees things differently from everyone else and why is that?

It might feel a bit strange if you haven’t historically encouraged your team to give you feedback but persevere as the results are always worth it.

Relevant resources

Jo Lee
Jo LeeJo Lee Coaching

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