Fostering a culture where individuals feel comfortable providing feedback is a critical component of building a thriving organization. Though feedback can be associated with criticism, in reality, feedback is an essential part of our personal and professional growth. Feedback allows us to focus on areas of improvement or strengths that we might not otherwise notice.
By creating a culture of feedback, you can incorporate the opinions and expertise of every employee within your ranks to improve inclusivity, collaboration, company culture, engagement, and performance. A feedback culture is a workplace culture in which fluid two-way exchanges take place between all levels of employees, as well as employees and managers. In a feedback culture, feedback is normal behavior instead of an indication that something is wrong. In a highly effective feedback culture, employers and other high-level professionals seek feedback for all types of company processes and tasks, and actively use this feedback to make improvements.
When feedback collection efforts and results can be accurately measured, you can determine which methods are most likely to achieve success. A true feedback culture provides a variety of benefits for any organization, but it isn't something that just occurs on its own. It must be developed and improved with intention.
Benefits of a Culture of Feedback
A recent survey shows that highly engaged employees are three times more likely to say they feel heard at their workplace (92%) than highly disengaged employees (30%). Numerous studies show that employee engagement improves performance and reduces turnover. A feedback culture is one way to help achieve these improvements.
Employee feedback is a valuable source of information that helps companies identify problems and improve processes. A feedback culture provides opportunities to share feedback from individual employees, teams, departments, units, divisions, and the entire organization. This feedback can then be used as a resource for improving company performance and strengthening management strategies.
A culture of feedback also provides these additional benefits that lead to higher levels of organizational success.
Companies that utilize the opinions and ideas of all employees are more likely to achieve high performance and financial success. Yet, when employees were polled about how often they spoke up about 15 topics, only 13.6% said they would speak up on 10 or more of the subjects. In comparison, 17.5% said they do not speak up at all, and 47.1% said they speak up on 5 or fewer topics.
Top-down culture is considered tradition in many organizations. Employees often don't consider it to be a part of their job to speak up, and many fear negative repercussions. Yet, it's clear that employees seek companies that value inclusion, as 80% of workers polled about the reason they changed jobs in 2021 stated they want inclusive companies.
A feedback culture encourages the communication that strengthens collaboration and inclusion at a workplace. Job satisfaction is increased when organizations focus on the six key variables of inclusion and collaboration, many of which encompass behaviors related to good communication, like knowledge-sharing and listening.
Feedback is Data
Whether feedback comes in the form of a manager sharing feedback with an employee or team members sharing feedback about a project, it offers data points that can be analyzed. By providing meaningful, future-oriented feedback and recording the data related to the feedback, you can measure improvement related to your efforts.
Encourages a Growth Mindset
Employees and organizations that prioritize learning and development put themselves in the best position to reach higher levels of success. A growth mindset is a belief that lifelong learning builds ongoing growth. Therefore, feedback offers an opportunity for improvement. When this mindset is integrated into the way a company approaches hiring, training, problem-solving, and performance review, individual employees and the organization as a whole can develop more innovative and impactful practices.
Meaningful relationships in the workplace have a significant impact on the way employees feel about their jobs. In fact, a sense of belonging is the strongest predictor of job satisfaction and turnover intent. A 2021 RallyBright study revealed that in organizations where belonging was indicated as high (in the top quartile), 97.7% of respondents indicated they were "satisfied or very satisfied with their job," and only 1.8% indicated they "thought often or very often about leaving their current job."
Workplace relationships accomplish more than simply keeping employees on board. They also lead to a more productive workforce. According to SHRM research, 77% of employees listed positive relationships with coworkers as a top driver of engagement in the workplace.
A culture of feedback creates an environment where employees of all levels are comfortable speaking freely with one another. This type of culture naturally enforces your inclusion efforts and builds a sense of belonging for all employees.
How to Build a Culture of Feedback
Changing the culture in any environment can be a challenge. Humans are creatures of habit and changing an established way of working might be met with resistance and distrust. However, with the right mindset, methods, and tools, you can create a culture of feedback in your organization. Consider how these actions can help encourage a feedback loop within your company.
- Start at the top. Strong leaders set an example by performing in ways that others can emulate. By providing meaningful feedback to employees and requesting information from these employees, managers and supervisors can enforce the importance of employee contributions and build stronger relationships.
- Create a feedback-safe environment. By providing a variety of feedback options, employees can contribute in a way that makes them comfortable. Interacting with employees and using feedback as a positive tool encourages employees to share honest feedback without fear of negative repercussions.
- Provide feedback tools. Utilizing tools that accurately measure feedback can help you recognize the methods that work the best. Feedback tools should build feedback into everyday operations as well as create a place for documentation and the utilization of measurable data to determine success rates.
- Generate accountability. Routine feedback builds expectations in the workplace. To build this environment, incorporate feedback requests into daily operations for both company leaders and employees. Feedback can be generated through surveys, meetings, one-on-one conversations, and written reports.
- Share the results. Feedback that works in a continuous loop builds confidence that encourages continued growth. Companies that transparently share information build trust, and strengthen relationships between coworkers and upper management. Remember to provide information accessibly, where employees can view results at their convenience, and to hold meetings and celebrations to announce successes.
Use the Right Feedback Tools
Gathering feedback and measuring the results of your efforts is an important part of creating a successful feedback culture. By using well-defined methods and collecting measurable data, you can determine which of your efforts yields the best results. These feedback tools and methods help to build a successful feedback culture with measurable progress.
Provide Multiple Methods for Gathering Feedback
Conversations between coworkers and those between employees and managers help build a culture of trust and collaboration. However, daily interactions alone don't necessarily encourage effective feedback. By generating multiple methods for feedback, you can encourage employees of all levels to contribute to an inclusive workplace culture. This can include formal and informal feedback from a variety of sources like surveys, suggestion boxes, and debrief sessions.
Invest in Learning and Development
Employees want companies to invest in their development in a way that makes them an asset to the business. In fact, 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in helping them learn. Like any skill, giving and receiving effective feedback needs to be learned. Useful feedback provides more than positive or negative affirmation. It offers information that can create an environment of learning to promote improvement in the future. Feedback training can be shared in different forms, including:
- Meetings with specific information
- Videos that show good and poor feedback interactions
- Professional training from a third-party provider
- Managerial development for strong leadership examples
- A variety of options for employees to submit questions and comments
Track Progress with Measurable Data
Many organizations across all industries recognize the importance of an inclusive organizational culture. A feedback culture is an essential part of an inclusive workplace. However, only 57% of organizations use metrics to track progress. When you use technology to track your organization’s improvement regarding key variables of organizational inclusion as well as performance metrics surrounding team collaboration, you take the administrative work out of feedback and concentrate on the ongoing innovation and performance of your company.
Build a Stronger Culture for a Stronger Team
Inclusive collaboration and continuous, effective feedback work together to create many of the elements that make up a successful organization. By creating a culture of feedback, you can build a workplace where all employees feel a sense of belonging, collaboration leads to innovative ideas, and engagement and performance are improved.