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Creating a Culture of Feedback

A group meeting to provide feedback

We were surprised by the overwhelming response of executives and VP leaders when we offered a conversation about feedback culture. We talked specifically about how to strategically create space for direct, kind and actionable feedback (give and receive) that motivates leaders within organizations to grow and change culture.

What is Feedback Culture?

Feedback Culture is when there is a consistent giving and receiving of feedback between leaders and team members and between peers. An underlying philosophy of Feedback Culture is that you must get it to give it. Leaders must first show they are willing to receive feedback by actively soliciting it from their teams in both private and public settings.

It also encompasses developing relationships with your team members. Providing feedback requires that you care personally about the person you are delivering it to. When you care personally about someone, it will compel you to deliver the necessary feedback in a kind way. Additionally, when someone feels genuine care, they are more apt to receive the feedback given.

How to Give Good Feedback

Some may take a passive stance with feedback, either delivering in an indirect way, or not at all. This approach protects others’ interests at the expense of our own. On the other hand, some may lean towards an aggressive stance, delivering feedback without regard to the impact to the other person. This approach protects your own interests at the expense of others.

The ideal approach to providing feedback is an assertive one, which protects both parties’ interests. You are able to effectively express your needs and concerns while respecting the needs and concerns of the other person.

Developing a feedback culture within organizations can help us find that sweet spot of kindness and candor by making it safe and natural to give and receive feedback.

Best Practices for Providing Feedback

Here are some tips to get you started in your practice of delivering assertive feedback.

  • Sharing stories relevant to the situation can help break down barriers to receiving it.
  • Soliciting feedback demonstrates and models how to receive feedback well. As a leader, you can teach your team by example.
  • Career and goals conversations are a perfect opportunity to highlight skills that can be developed further. If you don’t have the expertise or the time to teach the skills, be sure to connect with resources to make that possible.
  • Perfecting your 1-1 conversations by establishing rapport with your direct reports sets the groundwork for feedback conversations. Finding out what matters to your team members and asking about those things shows that you care about them. If they feel cared for, they are more open to your feedback.
  • Offering guidance about what has worked for you or others is a great way to assist someone in skill development without the “what-you-did-wrong” conversation.
  • Assessing and evaluating creates an objective way to talk about development.

Next Step – Practice Providing Feedback

Keep in mind that delivering effective feedback is a skill which requires practice and repetition. The more you provide assertive, continuous feedback, the easier it will feel over time. We encourage you to select at least 3 individuals to create a regular feedback loop for both giving and receiving feedback.

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Mindy Haas is a Leadership and Team Coach, certified through the International Coaching Federation (ICF). Her experiences of discovering meaningful work led her to the coaching profession. Meet Mindy.

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