By Barbara Mitchell
Q: I want to be sure that giving feedback is part of our organizational culture. What should we be doing to ensure that all managers are providing the feedback our employees need to perform at their best?
A: I love that you see the value of feedback and want to instutionalize it in your organization. Feedback isn't always easy to give or receive, but if you create a "feedback-rich" culture where feedback happens all the time, managers and employees get used to it—and, in most cases, look forward to it. Why? Because most people really do want to do a good job, and feedback gives them information on what they're doing well and where they can improve.
Here are five ways to encourage feedback:
- Nuture a growth mindset by encouraging your staff, at all levels, to believe they can always learn and grow. You want your employees to be lifelong learners—never satisfied with what they know and always wanting to be better.
- Train your staff—and by staff I mean everyone from the CEO to administrative employees—on how to give and receive feedback. Most likely, this will include interpersonal communication training on how to be a better listener and how to ask the right questions to clarify information. Also, include training on how to receive feedback, especially when it is corrective in nature.
Strive to strike the right balance between positive and corrective feedback. This approach will help your employees build their skills and improve performance.
- Encourage both positive and corrective feedback. If your managers focus only on corrective feedback, you risk undervaluing employee contributions, and most people crave recognition for a job well done. Strive to strike the right balance between positive and corrective feedback. This approach will help your employees build their skills and improve performance.
- Empower all employees to speak up. Feedback is a two-way street, so encourage managers to ask their teams for feedback. They can ask, "What could I be doing to help you succeed?" Managers have to be prepared to hear things they may not like and guard against reacting defensively.
- Provide feedback often. Make it part of your routine to provide feedback. Your employees will come to expect it, and your managers will improve their skills in giving and receiving it. Don't wait to be asked to provide feedback—offer it freely!
Finally, to have a successful feedback culture, your leaders need to model this behavior. When they ask for and receive feedback, they need to visibly show that they heard and applied it—and they need to do this over and over.
Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook. Do you have a question you'd like her to answer in "Ask the Expert"? Send it to [email protected]