I’d guess that almost all companies are currently going through some form of organisational change. It is a supremely challenging time. But what if there was something every one of us could do at work to help? That could bring huge benefits to both our organisation and people… And what if it was totally free too? Seems a no-brainer, right? And yet the thing in question – feedback – still doesn’t flow freely in many organisations.
We know that from our own experience working with clients, and from countless research studies, that employee frustrations at the lack of, or the poor quality of, feedback is a widespread issue. We also know that this isn’t going away and therefore creating a strong feedback culture ought to be a priority for all organisations –we will explain why and how.
How big an issue is feedback in the workplace?
Well reportedly according to Gallup only 14% of managers ‘strongly agree’ that they are effective at giving feedback. Just over one in 10 managers. One. In 10! And only half of managers (58%) think they give enough feedback.
What’s the cost of not giving feedback?
The impact of not giving feedback, or when it is delivered poorly by managers is lower employee engagement and higher attrition rates. A negative impact on either one can have real financial implications for a business so the fact it has been shown to affect both should set alarm bells ringing.
Why is this important now?
I think it has always been important. But there is no doubt that the clamour for more feedback has become much louder as the Millennial generation has become the dominant voice in workplaces. This is borne out by lots of research with PwC, for example, finding that nearly 60% of people would like feedback on a daily or weekly basis—a number that increased to 72% for employees under age 30.
Furthermore, our current, altered working landscape is also a factor worth considering. With a huge proportion of people working remotely all the time, they are naturally having less interaction with managers and colleagues and, as such, fewer natural opportunities for ad hoc ‘in the moment’ feedback. So, we perhaps need to work a bit harder to think about where and how this should happen.
How can you create a stronger feedback culture?
Which brings us neatly on to the question of ‘how?’ We have another ‘feature length’ article on this very subject – you can check that out here. But, here are seven foundational elements you’ll need to look at when trying to establish your own feedback culture.
- Devise clear messaging
The tone for your feedback culture should be set from the top. Have leaders explain why a feedback culture critical to your business success. Secure buy-in by conveying excitement for what this opportunity brings.
- Set out expectations
Consider what a feedback culture would look like in your organisation. How will this differ from what you have currently and what role should senior stakeholders play in laying the foundations for this?
- Define changes needed with your current culture
Any culture change programme should focus on a small number of critical behaviours in order to be successful, so work out what these are for you.
- No such thing as perfect feedback!
Giving feedback, particularly in the moment, is not easy. It’s crucial therefore to support your people (and encourage support of one other) in order to develop your desired feedback culture. It’s important to reinforce the need for a safe environment as, too often, feedback is withheld through fear of it being received negatively.
- Help with receiving feedback
This is just as important as giving feedback in the right way. Support employees on the need for them to be open-minded in receiving feedback, explaining their responsibility to help and encourage the feedback-giver.
- Bring training into the ‘real world
In our experience, the most successful workplace culture change initiatives often involve observing people in their work environment having these feedback conversations. This helps people to connect the dots and link training and theory with their own day to day role and conversations they are having.
- Get over your ‘fear of feedback’
This remains a major blocker for people and is a big reason why too often valuable thoughts and observations are never shared. We all need to embrace the notion that giving feedback is the kind thing to do and the right thing to do. Of course, comfort for doing this comes from fostering the right culture and developing peoples’ aptitude for feedback.
Of course, not all of this is easy, but then nothing good ever is! And, while there’s no quick wins here and this will take time, these steps can help you to build the gold standard of feedback cultures.
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