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10 tips for building a workplace culture that welcomes feedback

Success is a two-way street. And 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, and how to build a workplace culture that celebrates giving and getting feedback.

01 Feedback is most effective when given regularly

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.

02 The right tools make all the difference

Feedback's an important skill. If you’re bad at it, no tech or questionnaire 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 might get overlooked.

03 Mix it up with different feedback 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.

04 Set clear feedback expectations

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.

05 Feedback should be two-way

Typically, workplace feedback is between an employee and their line manager. Managers account for the vast majority of variation in engagement stats and 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 play a key role in enhancing your workplace culture.

06 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 workplace feedback is about more than highlighting people’s flaws. It’s about noticing and building upon their strengths. Not only does strengths-based management lead to more efficient teambuilding, it also means that you’re recognising everyone’s achievements. If you need your employees to remind you about their positive contributions, then you clearly need to look back at your own notes.

07 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 employee’s memory. Despite the popularity of the “feedback sandwich”, it usually just leads to the recipient focusing either the positive or negative feedback, depending on their disposition.

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 nestling your criticisms between compliments, clearly separate your positive and negative feedback.

Negative feedback shouldn’t be about berating your employee, but having a calm discussion about ways to improve and how you can support them.

08 Lead from the front

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. When tools are designed to be straightforward and accessible, simply modelling the usage you wish to see can be can eliminate the need for specific policy.

09 Transparency not anonymity

Trust is a key component 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.

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 with any degree of reliability, 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 Document everything

Document all workplace feedback. You also need to make that documentation accessible to the people involved. Keeping accurate records as you go takes so much prep-work out of annual performance reviews because the information is all right there.

That's where Weekly10 helps.

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 meaningful conversations that help all your people to understand how they’re doing. And we all know that engaged people out-perform their peers.