10 tips for building a workplace culture that welcomes feedback
Success is a two-way street. Your employees are an investment: the more you put in, the more you get out. And nowhere is this more important than in the feedback you give. That’s why we’ve put together this list of ten top tips for encouraging more feedback at work. We've also broken down how this builds a workplace culture that celebrates giving and getting feedback.
- Manager feedback is most effective when it's regular
- The right feedback tools make all the difference
- Mix workplace feedback up with different methods
- Set clear expectations around feedback at work
- Feedback should be two-way
- Positive feedback focuses on strength development
- Keep a clear divide between positive and negative feedback
- Lead from the front for a better workplace culture
- Transparency is better for workplace feedback, not anonymity
- Keep track of feedback to use it in performance conversations
1. Manager feedback is most effective when it's regular
Infrequent feedback just doesn’t cut it. If all you do is just review your employees at the end of the year, you’ll either be trying to correct mistakes so old they’ve been forgotten, or your attention will be disproportionately focused on the months or weeks leading up to the evaluation.
Feedback is most effective when it's delivered as soon as something has happened. In fact, it's been argued that feedback should be given no later than 72 hours after the event that incited it. But while checking in with all your employees every three days may be a bit much, building feedback into your workplace’s weekly routine means you can respond to issues as they arise. And our employee check-in is the ideal, light-touch way of achieving this!
2. The right feedback tools make all the difference
Feedback's an important skill. If you’re bad at it, no survey or fancy bit of tech is going to change that. But that being said, it’s amazing how having the right tools can help. After all, you can’t do full 1:1 performance reviews every week.
If you want employees to engage with your feedback process, it needs to be accessible and lightweight. It also needs to benefit them. That’s where a good asynchronous feedback tool works. It fills in the gaps between weightier performance reviews and day-to-day communication channels like Microsoft Teams.
But the buck doesn’t stop with feedback delivery tools. It’s just as important to be able to get actionable insight from employee sentiment. Fortunately, our AI-driven sentiment analysis can pick up on patterns that human eyes might miss.
3. Mix workplace feedback up with different methods
If you really want to know how to build a feedback culture at work, don’t just limit yourself to basic one-to-one check-ins and annual reviews. You have plenty of options when it comes to giving and getting feedback across the whole business. There's:
- 1 to 1 or 360° feedback
- Attributed or anonymous
- Individual or group feedback
- Face-to-face or written
Different approaches to feedback can suit different needs and lessen the impact of certain biases. Case in point, 360° feedback is useful for managing general bias by taking insight from multiple sources. Anonymous feedback, on the other hand, can help encourage people to be honest if they lack confidence.
Some approaches help to facilitate discussion, like face-to-face or group feedback, while others lend themselves to comprehensive documentation, like written feedback.
4. Set clear expectations around feedback at work
The most important part of regular feedback is consistency. Employees should know well in advance what kind of feedback is being given, who will be giving it, and what the goal is. If it’s to be a regular event, employees should be informed how often to expect it.
This is essential for getting your people to engage positively with performance-based feedback. Without adequate warning, employees don’t have time to prepare, and can justifiably feel ambushed.
5. Workplace feedback should be two-way
Typically, feedback at work is between an employee and their line manager. Line managers are often an employee's main point of contact with broader work culture. This level of familiarity is why managers play a key role in guiding employee development. But while performance management is the main purpose of workplace feedback, it’s not the only one.
If you want a highly engaged workforce, you need to ensure that feedback flows in both directions. But importantly, that you’re actually listening to what your people say. Properly leveraged, employee feedback can make a huge difference to your work culture. It's not just about improving how employees perform, but also listening to their insight to remove blockers to their productivity.
6. Positive feedback focuses on strength development
A big part of performance management’s image problem is that employees dread justifying their role to their boss. Knowing how to build a feedback culture at work means knowing how to make people enthusiastic about getting feedback.
But the importance of feedback at work is about more than highlighting people’s flaws. It’s about picking up on their strengths, then building on them. Research on strengths-based management has shown it to increase employee and customer engagement, as well as sales and profit.
Not only does strengths-based management lead to better team bonds, it also means that you’re recognising each employee's achievements. If you need your employees to remind you about their own positive contributions, then you clearly need to look back at your own notes. But, even so, recognition is also a group effort. It's one thing to get praise from your boss. But getting positive workplace feedback from the rest of the team too can really help it hit home.
7. Keep a clear divide between positive and negative feedback
A big part of how to build a feedback culture at work is making sure the topics of discussion don’t get muddled in your staff's memory. Despite the widespread use of the “feedback sandwich”, it usually just leads to the employee focusing on either the positive or negative feedback, depending on their current state of mind.
And just as it’s important to reinforce the things your employees are doing right, you also need to call out mistakes and areas for development. So, rather than burying your constructive feedback between compliments, clearly separate them.
Negative feedback shouldn’t be about telling your people off, rather it's about having a calm discussion to agree improves and how you can support them.
8. Lead from the front for a better workplace culture
Employees tend to look to their managers for guidance. So, if you’re trying to ensure a successful launch for a new feedback tool like an employee check-in, then you need to lead by example.
Let’s say you’re the CEO. You assign your department leaders check-in updates to complete, which then gives them an example of how to use it with their own teams. Model the behaviour you want to see. Show your team that it's not one rule for you and another for them. It'll stop the need for specific policies and show your people you trust them.
9. Transparency is better for workplace feedback, not anonymity
Trust is a key part of how to build a feedback culture at work. This is especially true considering that managers need to be able to get open and honest feedback from employees. But staff often feel pressured to keep their real opinions to themselves, or at least filter them heavily.
Only 55% of employees agree their managers are transparent. And 80% believe they could do their jobs without their manager. So, to encourage honest feedback that's reliable, you’ve got to create a sense of trust and safety around your feedback process. Some employers do this with anonymity, but we recommend steering away from that. If you can have an honest conversation without anonymity, then there are much greater avenues for further discussion.
10. Keep track of workplace feedback for performance conversations
Document all workplace feedback. You also need to make it accessible to the people involved. Keep accurate records as you go. This gets rid of up to 90% of the prep work for annual performance reviews because the information is all right there.
In fact, it's that lack of a paper trail that makes annual reviews such a pain to begin with. Employees don't know if they're going to be berated or congratulated, and managers have to recall performance off the top of their head. But, with proper documentation, both parties can easily get caught up before the review meeting. Employees can flag up the things they're most proud of, and bosses can take the whole year's performance into account.
How Weekly10 helps with feedback at work
Weekly10 helps managers to give their team feedback that’s timely, specific, and honest. Anonymous feedback lacks trust and accountability. Transparent feedback shows your people that they’re valued which is an important part of feeling engaged at work. Feedback starts better conversations that help all your people to understand how they’re doing. And we all know that engaged people perform better than their peers.
Download our latest guide that shows how embracing Continuous Performance Management will help you deliver better, more timely and effective feedback to support your people's performance 👇