By Claudia Leu | 4 minutes reading time
Can you go to your boss with honest criticism? Does your work environment regularly include constructive feedback that helps you grow? Read on to see why a constructive feedback culture is important. We’ve also put together a few tips on the subject to help you get started right away.
Did you answer “no” to either of our opening questions? If so, you’re not alone. In our experience, a healthy feedback culture is not yet a given for many companies—particularly when it comes to critical feedback.
Coworkers often avoid giving critiques, in particular when these critiques are about the management. They feel, for example, that criticisms could have a negative impact on their working situation. But critical feedback is essential in both senses of the word—critiques are important because they can potentially be the driver of many changes and improvements. After all, change is the only constant in today’s working world. The competition will quickly leave behind anyone who can’t react quickly to rapidly changing circumstances.
Good feedback culture at every level
What do you see as the foundation of a functional feedback culture? Is it the same for positive as well as negative feedback? In our experience, trust plays an important bridging role for work colleagues. Trust lays the groundwork for a heartfelt and open exchange of ideas, both in the team and across the company’s hierarchy. New ideas find a place, mistakes are communicated openly, there is no fear of the consequences and every employee is constantly developing. Managers take on an essential position as role models—their behaviour can help build and promote trust.
Trust lays the groundwork for a heartfelt and open exchange of ideas across the company hierarchy.
Trust is also a central component of psychological safety, which helps create a work atmosphere that aids employee engagement, creativity and innovation, error reporting, and knowledge sharing (Edmondson, 2018). Read the article to see what psychological safety is and how you can develop it in your workplace.
Download 7 feedback tips
4 reasons why every company should establish a feedback culture
As discussed above, there are many reasons why it’s crucial to have a company culture that nurtures feedback. But to make this a bit more tangible, we’ve outlined the four most important reasons below:
- Feedback is how you learn with each other and from each other
- Feedback leads to personal development
- Feedback enables quick adaptation
- Feedback improves your bottom line and encourages innovation
Let’s take them one at a time:
1. Feedback is how you learn with each other and from each other
Giving and receiving feedback leads to reflection on our own behaviour, and on that of others. This reflection is the foundation for learning and change. By talking about these issues regularly, we can better understand how our team members perceive our actions and collaboration. Open feedback promotes trust by providing clear clues and orientation. This certainty is the foundation for effective collaboration and good team performance. And ultimately, mutual feedback enables each of us to do a good job.
2. Feedback leads to personal development
An honest external perspective on our own behaviour leads us to uncover unconscious patterns of behaviour. This kind of feedback is not always easy to accept, because it lays bare our weaknesses. Ultimately, though, this is exactly the feedback that helps us uncover new opportunities for personal growth. It leads to an investment in our own skills—an investment that always pays off.
3. Feedback enables quick adaptation
The Coronavirus pandemic has made it painfully clear to us: many things that have always been dependable can still change overnight. We have to adapt to new situations quickly. And that’s precisely where feedback helps. It enables us to adapt flexibly to a constantly changing environment. Through reflection, we continuously learn where our strengths lie and where we collectively can improve. That’s how we improve the organization as a whole.
4. Feedback improves your bottom line and encourages innovation
Different strengths, different viewpoints, and a common goal. The more diverse the team, the more varied the feedback and preferences, the more potential benefit. Each person approaches the topic with a different focus and illuminates a new facet that otherwise might still have remained hidden. Feedback gives us food for thought and conveys ideas from other perspectives. That’s why feedback is the foundation for innovation.
Now that’s all well and good. But how can you put this into practice right away? With our 7 tips, you’ll learn how to give valuable feedback and develop as a team. You can download them right here.
Edmondson, A. (2018). The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.