With the standardisation of hybrid working and the revolution in methods of communication between employees, learning to give and receive feedback is particularly important. Feedback, all too often reduced to pointing out errors, can be a powerful tool in improving employee performance and engagement. It should not be limited to annual interviews but be present at every level of the company and be an integral part of the corporate culture.
In this article, we will explore the characteristics and advantages of a feedback culture, as well as the best HR practices for setting it up, in particular through the case of our internal culture at Wemanity Belgium.
1. What is a culture of feedback?
Feedback is an evaluation, positive or negative, that follows an action or an experience. To make it a habit and create a genuine culture of feedback, this approach must apply to the entire organisation and to all aspects of company life (performance, feeling of belonging, adherence to values …).
It should not only be a matter for leaders. Employees must also be able to provide feedback on their manager completely transparently. It is a powerful HR agile transformation technique for letting employees know that their voice matters.
Continuous feedback promotes performance, as it allows for self-questioning, rethinking methods, adjusting actions, etc. It creates a relationship of trust and avoids unspoken words, possible speculation or stress. In addition, it improves employee engagement and motivation because it allows all employees to be more empathetic and recognise each other’s work and efforts.
According to a Gartner study, in this setting, employee performance increases by up to 26% and their engagement by 40%. Data that is not surprising when we learn that 70% of professional engagement depends upon direct management, according to Gallup.
Adapting to the challenge of hybrid working involves adapting your communication and valuing soft skills in your daily interactions (active listening, empathy, collaboration, learning agility, etc.). Establishing a culture of feedback today is crucial for future business success.
2. Three good practices for creating a culture of feedback
Alice Larcher, recruitment and HR manager, shares with us three good practices established at Wemanity Belgium and reveals how to adapt them to suit the context of your organisation to instil a culture of feedback and transparency:
Training in feedback
Giving and receiving feedback can be learned! It is not an innate skill, contrary to what one might think. To train your employees, you can offer them resources and training on the following topics:
- How do you give and receive feedback?
- How do you take advantage of feedback in your daily work?
- During feedback, how do you formulate questions, look for examples and clarify the meaning of your words?
- As a manager, how can you take advantage of feedback to clarify expected objectives?
For maximum effectiveness, implement these measures prior to moments that are conducive to feedback: half-yearly and annual interviews, one-to-one meetings, etc.
You can also take advantage of onboarding to educate newcomers from their very first days with you by making these materials available to them.
Put leaders and managers to work
To consolidate a culture of feedback sustainably, the “interpersonal skills” and methods used by leaders and managers must set an example. If employees observe specific recurring behaviour in them, even the most reluctant will be more likely to follow suit.
Leaders and managers must continually ask for feedback from employees and their hierarchical peers. They must show that they take it into account. By doing so, they break down the taboo of failure and transform the relationship to innovation: to succeed, you have to be able to receive negative feedback – meaning that you made a mistake.
Google, in a recent study, has also recently directly linked the performance of employees to a psychologically safe environment favoured by management. “To foster an environment of psychological safety, managers must show their own vulnerability and demonstrate the trust they place in their team,” says Frederik Pferdt, Google’s Chief Innovation Evangelist.
Provide a feedback framework
Create standards for the form that feedback should take, and pass them on to your team. These are benchmarks for your employees. They vary according to your corporate culture, the size of your structure and your organisation. They can be very different from one team to another within the same company.
Here are some examples of initiatives that will foster a culture of feedback:
- Monthly or quarterly, send a “happiness survey” to all employees to assess their overall satisfaction and collect their needs.
- Hold monthly sharing sessions (called Knowledge Share), bringing together all employees, which allow for discussion and training among peers.
- Hold monthly question-and-answer sessions where employees can ask company leaders questions directly.
- Share the results of satisfaction surveys with the entire company, accompanied by an NPS (net promoter score), an action plan, progress monitoring on actions initiated previously, etc.
- Hold public retrospective events with all stakeholders following major projects.
- Implement an internal communication tool to facilitate discussion and feedback, such as Slack.
Do you practise feedback in your organisation? What are your best practices?