According to one study, nearly 60% of survey respondents reported that they would like feedback on a daily or weekly basis. Why? Because without feedback, people don’t know how others are experiencing them or their work. The challenge is that although people value getting feedback (both positive and constructive), leaders often don’t prioritize giving it. And, when they don’t, time passes, and frustrations build. If senior leaders want to build cultures where their people feel valued and great work gets done, they need to take steps to nurture a culture of feedback at their organizations. Here are four simple ways to get the ball rolling:
Start by Asking for Feedback
Employees get cues on how to act by observing others in their organization. One of the easiest ways to nurture a culture of feedback is for leaders to ask for it themselves. When leaders authentically request feedback on a regular basis in town halls, meetings, and in one to ones, they send the message “I know I’m not perfect and I want your help to grow.” When people see leaders are actively seeking feedback, they will be encouraged to do the same.
Here are some great questions to use when requesting feedback:
- What am I doing well that you want me to keep doing?
- Is there anything I currently do that you would like me to do differently?
- Is there anything that I don’t do that you would like me to start doing?
- What 2-3 things would you like me to work on over the next two months?
Acknowledge People Who Give Feedback (Positive & Constructive)
What gets recognized, gets repeated. Regardless if it is positive or constructive, leaders who acknowledge those who give feedback are likely to see more of that behavior in the future. If an employee speaks up in a meeting to spotlight another person’s accomplishment, acknowledge it by saying something like “I really love it when people take time to highlight other great work. Thank you.” If someone speaks up and offers difficult feedback, regardless of how you feel about what was shared, thank them. “It’s not always easy to speak up like you did. I appreciate you doing so.” When people know their input is appreciated, they will share more freely.
Create Feedback Rituals
Whether it is Post Project Debriefs, Monthly One to Ones, or Bi-Annual Retreats, create rituals that prioritize celebrating success and giving feedback. One simple process to try is a weekly Small Victories practice. Every Thursday afternoon, leaders can post the question “What were your small victories this week?” to their chat/Slack channel, or via email. . . Maybe they had a great meeting with a client, finished a report, or went for a run. Whatever their answer, this simple question gives team members a chance to share their small wins from the previous week and helps people celebrate together.
Prioritize Organizational Feedback Processes
What leaders and organizations prioritize sends a message to employees about what they value. If companies want to nurture a culture of feedback, they need to make time for it. If Human Resources sends out an Engagement Survey, have everyone stop what they are doing and take it immediately. Honor people’s time and input by sharing a summary of the survey results, including key findings and follow up actions, within two weeks. When it is performance review time, block out time on the schedule to make sure everyone gets them done on time or early. In addition, organizations can signal the importance of giving feedback, recognition, and completing performance reviews by making them a performance measure for all leadership rolls.
With a little intentional effort, over time, leaders can nurture a culture where feedback happens and people know they are valued.