When I ask managers, what their most difficult conversations are, giving feedback usually comes up as one of the top five most challenging conversations! Regardless of the sector, who they are, or what they do, it is so often that I hear how tough it is for managers to provide honest feedback around work performance to their employees.
If I had to guess, most of you reading this blog could relate to this reaction based on your past experiences. Just think about the first time you had a conversation around feedback and how you felt. Need I say more! Would you believe that receiving feedback is often perceived to be as equally challenging as giving feedback for some managers.
Often the person receiving feedback may think it is unfair or inaccurate. Defensiveness goes straight up! The impact of receiving feedback sometimes results in the person feeling demotivated, a tad indignant, defeated, and undervalued.
Can you ever win with feedback? Why, I wonder, is this process of both giving and receiving feedback such a challenge? Why do we find it hard to have the conversation, and, hear the conversation? Some contradictions I often hear from managers or others are, “But why was I not told? I have an open door policy?” or “I am open to feedback as I want to be better in what I do” or “If I would have known I would not have…”
To give feedback, and receive feedback sometimes just feels plain hard!
Without a culture that promotes feedback, how can any organisation truly function to their optimal ability? The consequences are significant. From impacting every aspect of the organisation, to employee engagement and to customer satisfaction. Without feedback decisions and actions are made based only on assumptions. This will lead to a multitude of challenges including poor and inaccurate decision making, employee disengagement, and poorer service delivery to customers.
We know that well thought out feedback will help every aspect of the organisations functioning. So what do managers within an organisation need to do to grow and strengthen a feedback culture?
If you want to start strengthening your feedback culture here are a few simple steps:
Be curious and reflect. Acknowledge honestly where your organisation sits on the feedback culture scale from 1 to 10. Do you often encourage transparent conversations amongst managers and employees, or do people feel in the dark about their performance? After you have assessed where you are, think about where you want to be and why? What motivates you to shift the culture? What will a feedback culture look like? Feel like? Sound like?
Leaders should role model. Vulnerability should be encouraged by the leaders of your company. invite feedback and genuinely listen authentically with curiosity and hold off on the value judgements and defensiveness! Additionally, to show courage and provide feedback to others aligned with the values of honesty and transparency.
Build relationships to enable genuine connection and trust. We know that when relationships are based on these two key aspects, they support a feedback culture and provide safety. A psychologically safe workplace ensures that no one is set up to fail and people feel safe knowing that there will be support, guidance, and celebration.
Nurture and shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset! Proposed by Professor Carol Dweck in her book Mindset, having a growth mindset describes those who believe that their success comes from time and effort. They often see challenges as achievable through growth and persistence. A fixed mindset rarely sees room for growth and categorises ones abilities as fixed traits.
A feedback culture that provides honest input and encouragement from others will encourage a growth mindset. Providing constructive feedback should allow employees to feel that their abilities and contributions can grow vs being fixed.
There are many more strategies to be considered to support strengthening a feedback culture, but these are just a few for reflection!
So, what are some of the benefits of having a feedback culture? Several of these include:
If you would like to learn more about how to strengthen your organisations feedback culture or begin to establish the building blocks of providing feedback conversations, please feel free to connect with me for an initial free of charge half hour consultation.