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The four keys to building a feedback culture

Why it matters

Feedback fuels continuous improvement. We all have blind spots. We rely on our colleagues to help us see those, to help us fulfill our greatest potential.

But to give and receive feedback effectively requires a broader feedback culture where your whole team is comfortable with it.

Read on to learn the four keys to building up a feedback culture in your team.

As the adage goes, you have to be the change you want to see. Rather than preaching about the benefits of feedback, model it. And get buy-in from your fellow leaders and managers to do the same.

🤷 How?

  1. Most importantly, ask for feedback and receive it graciously. One quick win: next time you lead a meeting or run a presentation, ask teammates afterward, “How did I do?”. If you get a standard, “Oh, I thought that was great!”, persist with a specific follow-on, like “What one thing could I do better next time?”
  2. Be humble, even a bit vulnerable. Admit when you don’t know the right answer, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or coaching. If you find it hard to give and receive feedback (like most of us!), open up about that.
  3. Give more feedback – both praise and critique – when it makes sense to. Make it informal, rather than an event that requires a specific meeting slot and a formal meeting room.

If you want your team to give more feedback, you need to get comfortable giving it yourself.

Openly talk to your team about building a feedback culture where you’re committed to helping each other improve and succeed – as well as the first to celebrate each others’ successes.

Whenever you talk about it, find a way to link it back to your company’s values. How does feedback further your values, your greater purpose as a business?

It’s also useful to train your team on some simple guidelines for both how to give and receive feedback. Note that it’s important your team knows how to properly receive feedback. There’s no point giving it if the receiver isn’t receptive to hearing it!

Reframe feedback as an opportunity for learning.

As Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner write in this HBR piece, “Feedback is too often viewed through a frame of evaluation and judgment: Good and bad. Right and wrong. Top ten-percent. Bottom quartile. These frames raise resistance.

But when you frame feedback as an essential part of learning, it becomes less about your deficiencies and more about your opportunities.”

🚩 Acknowledge to your team that none of us naturally love feedback – but if we see a colleague doing something we know they could do better, it’s our responsibility as someone who cares about them to flag it.

Reframing feedback with this attitude reinforces a Growth Mindset culture (and vice versa, a Growth Mindset or learning culture will help people embrace feedback).

How can you make giving feedback just something you do regularly, as a matter of course? Where can you embed a feedback habit in a non-threatening way?

Think about all the formal and informal gatherings and communication channels in your team and the broader business.

Think about the opportunities where your team is together, where you could benefit most from accelerating your learnings.

Here are some ideas of integrating feedback into your day-to-day:

  • Take a minute to celebrate successes at your regular team meetings
  • Ask for feedback on your performance as a manager at the end of 1:1 meetings
  • As mentioned above, any time you lead a meeting or run a presentation, ask teammates who were in the session afterward, “How did I do?”
  • For key external meetings, make it a habit to score yourself afterward on how it went (this is particularly useful for commercial meetings)
  • Create a Slack channel for your whole team to give kudos and shout-outs

State of DEI 2020-2021

How has 2020 changed the way we work? Hive Learning reports on the State of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in 2021.

unnamed-5-150x150 Fiona Young (she/her)

Having previously led Learning and Development for 3,000 people at Europe’s leading venture builder, Blenheim Chalcot, Fiona knows a thing or two about how to build high performance culture. As Content Director at Hive Learning, Fiona pioneered the organisation's leading guided content programmes which are designed to turn learning into action. Most recently, Fiona led the inception, development and delivery of Inclusion Works by Hive Learning - the world’s first diversity and inclusion programme focused on turning unconscious bias into conscious action - created from over 1,000 leading sources.

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Your 2-minute guide to giving feedback