Six Ways to Build a Feedback-Driven Culture that Inspires Healthy Communication

Trust, safe communication and healthy communication are the key ingredients to creating a culture that is feedback-rich. Leadership must establish healthy communication habits and eliminate toxic ones.

Healthy and honest feedback from employees at all levels of the organization is key to a healthy culture. Organizations that don’t receive feedback are unable to grow and remain ineffective. Feedback is a way to improve individuals’ performance by correcting mistakes, recognising their strengths and setting goals to help them grow. Managers and employees are afraid of receiving feedback. Poor communication in delivering feedback can cause the receiver to become defensive or shut down.

These are six ways companies can foster a culture of feedback that encourages healthy communication.


It’s a Part of the Process Since Day One

Companies should show that feedback is important at all levels of their organization. You can do this by having an onboarding buddy and/or manager that provides feedback and distributing surveys. Feedback can also be made an integral part in town halls or meetings.

Tatyana Tyagun is the HR generalist at Chanty. She shared that they have a training program which teaches employees how to leave feedback in meaningful ways, when to do it, and how to respond to it once it’s received. It is available in video format so that everyone can see it later.

Feedback becomes a way of life. It takes time to change and requires everyone’s support. It will take more time to adapt a culture that doesn’t ask for feedback from employees, opinions, or ideas than one that has built solid communication with their staff.


Why

Companies often put in place policies or practices without explaining why. Companies often point out the wrongdoings of employees without explaining how they can fix it.

Sonya Schwartz, the founder of HerNorm explained that “the ability to give and receive feedback must be learned like a skill. That is why brands need to provide training and resources to their employees to help them be effective at receiving and giving feedback.”

Feedback should not only be between employees and their managers, but also between peers. Feedback is needed to improve workplace performance and relationships.

Michelle Devania, the founder of loveevani shared that “if people understand why they are asking for feedback, then they will know what kind of feedback to give.”


Learn About The How

It’s not always easy to give feedback. This is why many people don’t give it. However, feedback that is not given correctly can lead to employee frustration and even worsening of the experience. It is essential to take the time to train everyone, no matter their rank or title, how to give feedback.

Receivers will be more open to accepting criticism than rejecting it if you take the time to educate them. This will prevent them from becoming defensive and closing down, instead of learning from feedback. Make training interactive by pairing people and having them practice. Also, give real-life examples from the workplace. This allows them to apply what they have learned in real-life workplace situations.


Create A Safe Environment

If employees feel secure and assured that they will not face any negative consequences for giving feedback to their superiors, they will feel more comfortable. Managers and HR should foster relationships that allow employees to freely give negative feedback without fear of being fired or retaliated against. Carole Burman is the managing director of MAD_HR, an HR consulting firm. She stated that it was important to give constructive feedback and not force it.

Companies should communicate and implement their anti-retaliation policy. They should also encourage employees to tell the truth about any issues that they think could be detrimental to the company. Employees are the ones closest to clients and customers. They are aware of the issues and can suggest ways to improve. Businesses must be able to hear their concerns if they want to succeed.

Most employees will go to HR with any concerns. Sometimes, however, HR may not be able to communicate these concerns to the management or leadership. It is the responsibility of HR to get leadership buy-in and inform them about what’s happening internally. Everyone is doing a disservice if information is withheld from or filtered to the extent that the original concern has been altered.


An Example

Leaders are a mirror to their employees’ behavior and responses. Sonya Schwartz, the founder of HerNorm shared that employees look up to leaders to see how they behave and respond. Leaders should do the same.

Burman stated, “Leaders must improve their ability to receive and give feedback and set an example.” They must ask for feedback at all levels and show that they are open to receiving it.

Diversity is a key ingredient to greatness in companies. Women and people of color are less likely than white men to be on the leadership team. Companies must create an environment that is representative of all employees to set an example. To do this, you need to create a diverse leadership team.


Select the Right Tool

Leaders often find it easy to give feedback to employees. However, employees fear giving feedback to their bosses. It’s important to consider different types of feedback, such as anonymous, one on one, 360 feedback, and others.

The right tool will help you create a process for getting feedback. Some companies might use anonymous reporting channels, while others may host a discussion forum during a town hall. It might take some trial and error before you find the right tool.

Gabrielle Loverde is the operations manager at BluShark Digital. She shared that employees meet with management biweekly to discuss their problems and to make suggestions.

It is vital to have frequent one-on-1’s. This is crucial for the growth, success and improvement of any company’s culture. The manager must lead the one-on-1 meetings in an informal, yet structured manner. Employees are afraid of being retaliated against if there is a corporate vibe to the conversation. Employees often feel that their feedback is lost and not taken seriously.

The right tool will allow you to track feedback and keep track of changes. To send out pulse surveys, HR can work with a tool like 15Five. The pulse surveys are quick and easy to complete for employees. They would provide feedback, challenges and feedback to employees about their satisfaction and motivation.

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