Culture that welcomes feedback
Have you ever had someone confront you about a list of things you’ve been doing that have upset them and you thought to yourself, “Why did you come tell me this stuff sooner?” Or have you ever wanted to talk to someone about something they were doing but didn’t know how to bring it up? Let’s talk about creating a culture that welcomes feedback.
I did a webinar recently on crucial conversations and while that’s useful for how to have bigger conversations it doesn’t solve the tiny little things that happen everyday or multiple times a day that add up over time.
For those things you need to have a feedback culture built, but how do you do that?
- You talk about it a lot. During hiring, onboarding, weekly meetings, all the time. You talk about how people should give feedback and expect feedback all the time. Discuss the difference between organizational conflict and personal conflict. Feedback is necessary for organizational conflict to grow the organization in a positive way!
- You lead by example. You don’t have to be a manager or a boss to lead, you can lead from anywhere. So ask for feedback, ask specific questions, ask for hard feedback, as for little feedback. Ask for it, listen, say thank you. Don’t make excuses or justify. All you can do when you ask for feedback is say thank you and ask clarifying questions.
- Teach people how to give feedback- that’s what I’ll spend the most time on below. Giving feedback is inherently hard because it has the potential for conflict so people need to be taught how to do it so it’s not hard or awkward.
- Teach people how to accept feedback. You can start by leading by example but you can also set this up as an expectation. Let your team know they should ask for feedback often and when it’s given they should say thank you or ask clarifying questions. Remind them to take what they can, work on what they’re able, and let the rest go. It’s only information, feedback shouldn’t define who you are.
Having a culture that welcomes feedback isn’t the only thig you need. So as you’re building your culture how do you teach people how to give feedback?
Give them tips and tricks!
When giving feedback:
- Assume best intent
- Ask questions to understand
- Use phrase like “I noticed…. And I prefer…..”
- Settle disputes by referring to policies and procedures
- If two team members do things differently discuss if it’s something that actually needs to be done the same or if it’s okay to have variation
- Have a third object in the room to refer to (a picture, an evaluation, a form, or something else)
- Be specific
- Be supportive
- Talk about the 95% too!
- Focus on the behavior and stay objective
You have to share your vision that you want a culture that welcomes feedback. Tell them what it looks like and why! Then get the team together and role play giving feedback. You can do this in a few different ways but here are my three favorite ways.
Watch videos of other people’s training. Take turns pretending to give the person in the video feedback. After someone gives the person feedback, have another team member offer feedback on the feedback, they can tell them what they would have appreciated if they were the person in the video and how they would have wanted to hear it.” Take turns until you’re all feeling more confident.
Just talk about it! Ask each other questions. “If I find that you missed something during cleaning, how should I tell you about it?” Then discuss it! Think about different situations and discuss how you like to hear from your teammates or manager on those topics.
Have each team member write down on three different index cards something they have seen/heard/experienced that they would need to provide feedback to a teammate about. Then mix all the cards up and give them to other people. Have them write down how they would provide feedback on that thing. Then discuss out loud the suggestions and tweak them until the team likes the results.
Most importantly is that the more you do it, the easier it is! So get out there and start supporting each other.