Every company faces organizational challenges, whether cultural, structural, or otherwise. But without a strong culture of open communication, overcoming those challenges is practically impossible. The good news is that it’s never too late to build open dialogue with your team into your daily workflow.
Regular, candid feedback provides a healthy pathway for personal and professional growth, fosters an environment of trust (an important facet of Employee Supremacy), and it also has a direct, positive impact on business outcomes.
To build that trust in a meaningful way, feedback must be both appropriately given and received. And so you should ask yourself: How often are you soliciting feedback about your own performance?
Integrating that request into meetings with colleagues on a regular basis can teach you a lot about what you’re doing well, and what areas may need more focus.
Consider implementing these steps to establish that all-important two-way feedback loop:
Conclude every 1:1 with team members by asking: “What can I be doing to better support you?”
Although you may not receive an answer every meeting, this question signals your openness to feedback and refocuses team members — whether they are a manager, your peers, or people who report to you — on what they need in order to be more productive.
Positive framing is important. Be wary of asking negatively phrased questions like “What is a weakness of mine that I need to work on?” as peers and direct reports will likely feel uncomfortable giving this type of feedback.
When you do receive feedback, act quickly to help improve employee sentiment and retain employees in the long run. The routine also gives your coworkers a chance to share what you’re doing well so that you can reinforce those good habits.
Offer an anonymized outlet to provide feedback
Some team members may not be as comfortable as others giving face-to-face feedback.
Assuming you have a large enough team for any feedback to be truly anonymous, brainstorm ways for people to provide their thoughts and suggestions through other outlets besides a direct conversation.
Start with a survey that covers the most common asks, like the 13 secret questions that Google uses to collect employee feedback, and elaborate your questions further based on your team’s needs.
For example, asking employees to rate their agreement with statements like, “my manager keeps the team focused on our priority results/deliverables” and “my manager has engaged in meaningful discussion with me about career development in the past 6 months” can provide clear direction on important focus areas as a team leader.
Gather feedback from other departments
Spread the word that you’re looking for feedback and ensure that other teams feel comfortable coming to you.
If you’re a manager, set up a block on your calendar once a week that people can use to schedule a meeting with you. That way, they don’t feel like they are taking up your time, but rather that you’ve set aside the time because it is important to you.
If you’re a front-line employee, get in the habit of asking your coworkers for regular feedback. For example, after a meeting where you’ve just made a presentation, send individual direct messages to other meeting attendees asking for their honest feedback about what you shared and what they thought about your performance.
After you’ve put these processes in place for gathering feedback, it’s important to close the loop by actually acting on that feedback to the degree that you are able. Follow up with the person who provided the feedback on any changes you’ve made to let them know what you’ve done and encourage them to continue providing honest feedback in the future.
Keep in mind that giving direct feedback can be scary, so make sure to foster that environment of trust to ensure that two-way feedback can be successful in your organization.
Curious about the work we’re doing at The Receptionist to build a company culture that empowers team members to advocate for themselves and do the best work for our customers? Watch our Employee Supremacy series and learn more about our unique approach to business: prioritizing employees over shareholders. You’ll see how it helps create an environment where constructive feedback and assuming positive intent is the norm!
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