5 Steps to Developing a Positive Feedback Culture

Oct 31, 2019 | Real-time Feedback

Think you need to encourage more feedback in your organization? You’re probably right. According to Gallup, just 19% of Millennials say they receive consistent feedback — and they would love to receive a lot more of it. 

When a workplace has a culture of giving and receiving constructive feedback, everyone benefits. Leaders grow stronger, productivity rises, and all employees become better at their jobs.  

To gain authentic feedback, all employees need to feel free to speak their mind. That means you need to make them feel invited to share their opinions. Additionally, feedback needs to flow in all directions — not just from managers to their direct reports, but from employees to their supervisors and other leaders as well. That means educating managers at all levels of the organization on how to solicit feedback from their team. 

How can you work to create a positive feedback culture? Read on for five actionable steps that will help everyone in your organization start sharing their input with one another.

Create clear methods for sharing feedback.

Introduce clear routines and channels for sharing feedback — consider implementing a weekly poll via a survey tool, for example. As Forbes says, implementing a weekly poll will create an expectation that all employees will share their feedback on a regular basis — and show you value their thoughts! Include open-ended questions that solicit detailed input and fresh ideas, as well as rating scales that will give you quick statistics on how your employees feel about any given issue. Conducting periodic 360-degree reviews for all employees will also prompt everyone to share detailed feedback about one another’s performance. 

Another potential channel is a peer-mentorship relationship. Two colleagues who each possess a particular skill that the other is working to develop could pair up and give each other regular feedback on their progress. Such arrangements promote positive feelings about receiving feedback as both employees know they’re supporting the other’s growth and receiving support in turn.

Model how to receive feedback.

As a manager, work to set an example of how to invite and receive constructive feedback with grace and appreciation. Encourage other leaders to do the same, asking for their direct reports’ input frequently. Remind them that getting consistent feedback from their team will strengthen their leadership skills. (Plus, as everyone gets more used to giving and receiving feedback, the experience will feel easier and more natural!) They’ll be showing real strength as a leader by welcoming the opportunity to grow. 

To go the extra mile, leaders can work to be transparent about how the feedback they’ve received has benefited them. For instance, at team meetings, a manager could thank a particular employee for feedback given during that week, describing the growth it has fostered (or how they’re continuing to utilize it). Other employees will then know their feedback will be valued and welcomed. 

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Provide a feedback framework.

Many employees may not have much experience with sharing feedback (and some may not have been exposed to strong examples of how to share it). Having a framework for giving feedback can help tremendously, building their confidence and competence in articulating their opinions in a productive way. Huffington Post shares several examples:

  • The Situation-Behavior-Impact framework, in which the person giving the feedback describes the situation she has experienced, then the behavior she has witnessed that contributed to it, and lastly, the way that behavior has affected her or other employees.
  • The Stop-Keep-Start framework, in which the feedback-giver describes a behavior he would like the recipient to change, followed by something the recipient does well, and finally, a behavior he would like to see the recipient adopt.
  • A MadLibs-style feedback template used by Medium, which creatively solicits a thorough overview of an employee’s feelings about a particular situation or a colleague’s performance. 

When training groups of managers or employees on sharing feedback, you might engage in a role-playing activity that uses one of these frameworks. Everyone will benefit from witnessing positive examples of how to share input and advice.

Ask employees how they prefer to receive feedback.

Find out how employees like to hear feedback so you can deliver it as effectively as possible. You can have them fill out a questionnaire that asks them questions such as the following:

  • “How do you like to receive feedback?”
  • “How often do you wish to receive it?”
  • “What type of follow-up support do you typically want to have?”

Employees will feel more open to feedback when they have a say in how it’s delivered, and managers can work to share it in the most effective way possible. 

Act upon the feedback. 

When multiple employees express a need for a change to occur, you’ll know it’s time to take action. Strive to create a plan of action swiftly so they’ll know you value their input. Include employees in developing the action plan whenever possible. That might involve asking follow-up questions, inviting ideas for solutions, or giving them particular tasks to carry out to move the plan forward. Involving them in the plan will show you take their ideas seriously and help create a solution that works for everyone.

As employees grow comfortable and skilled at both sharing and receiving feedback, you’ll see helpful feedback flowing throughout your organization on a daily basis. As a result, everyone will have the opportunity to improve their performance every day, and your entire organization will become more effective. Continue training new employees on how to deliver and receive constructive feedback (and holding periodic workshops on this topic), and your positive feedback culture will keep flourishing!

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