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Building a self-sustaining culture of feedback – why (and how)

Shelley Heath / February 22, 2019

You know that your managers are mission-critical to the happiness of your employees. But were you aware that managers alone account for 70% of variance in employee engagement?

Given that just 13% of employees worldwide are engaged1, and an even lowlier 8% in the UK2, all too many businesses are overlooking the opportunity that crystal-clear communication between manager and employee can lead.

Central to this story of open communication and engaged employees is the building of a virtuous circle…

virtuous circle noun

“a chain of events in which one desirable occurrence leads to another which further promotes the first occurrence and so on resulting in a continuous process of improvement”


When a robust virtuous circle of feedback is created, it can create a workplace where employees are emotionally satisfied; it can strengthen the relationship between manager and employee; and it could nurture the workforce to becoming proactive in reacting to change, rather than simply awaiting orders. Now for the good news (and some bad)….

Millennials want feedback (that’s the good news)…3

But they won’t ask for it (that’s the bad news, in case you’re wondering).

So exactly how should your system work, if you’re taking aim at creating a virtuous circle of feedback? Let’s dive into the various types of feedback now.


The many forms of employee feedback

Manager to Employee (and back)

When it comes to Millennials, regular meetings more than double the chance of engagement. But – and here’s the crux of the matter – feedback during these meetings MUST be meaningful (just 19% of millennials4 say that they receive the routine feedback they crave, with only 17% regarding the feedback they receive as meaningful).

Out in the wider world – whether millennial or three decade-long employee – yearly performance reviews are almost universally disliked, with 22%5 saying that they’d rather call in sick. What makes this even more depressing is that annual reviews are seriously expensive to put together – demanding 5 full working weeks per year, per manager.

Yet while regular feedback sessions are important, this isn’t a one-shot deal. And you should be aware of differences between generations when it comes to preferences for feedback (such as 80% of Gen Y saying that they prefer on-the-spot recognition over formal reviews)6.

Peer recognition

41% of companies that use peer-to-peer recognition have seen positive increases in customer satisfaction

45% of employees value feedback from their peers, clients and customers, while 44% would give recognition to others if given the tool to do so. Yet despite these compelling stats, just 14% of companies are supplying the tools necessary to facilitate this process.

Employee exposure

Exposing the good work of your employees lies at the heart of endorsing their efforts and making them feel valued. Not only would 69% of employees work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognised7, an effective recognition program can also go a long way to driving down the cost and impact of voluntary staff turnover. How much, you ask? Well…

Companies with recognition programs that are highly effective at improving employee engagement have 31% lower voluntary turnover

Creating a virtuous cycle from these three forms of feedback

Direct manager-to-employee feedback provides vital, tailored and in-depth closed feedback, but this only impacts giver and receiver.



Transparent feedback via peer recognition and employee exposure go beyond the four walls of the one-to-one meeting, to create a ‘network’ effect of productive, positive encouragement, and when done well, these positive vibes can truly be contagious.

An open process, such as that which defines peer recognition and employee exposure, encourages others to share and provide feedback - something that could and should serve as a building block for a thriving company culture (and central to making this process self-sustaining).


Weekly10 – making light work of employee feedback

Weekly10 makes carving out a virtuous circle a breeze, tackling the three key features of a flourishing employee feedback structure.

  1. Employee feedback and manager feedback. One-to-one feedback is given an overhaul with Weekly10 in two ways. First - manager and employee feedback is fast fire and effective – given in increments of just 10 minutes per week. Second – this feedback goes both ways – manager-to-employee, and employee-to-manager. This two-way street is right about where emotional intelligence comes in. It opens up the conversation to the employee’s feelings, needs, goals and frustrations. This form of continuous feedback also leads to fewer (unwelcome) surprises and shorter feedback cycles, encouraging participation and creating a fresh mindset of expecting, accepting and embracing feedback. Filling out an update on the go is simple. With support for attachments and comments, employees can use our Weekly10 as if they were back in the office.
  2. Peer recognition is built-in through mentions (@name). With Weeky10, peer recognition is easy and instant – two elements that encourage the forming of habits and the forging of a long-term feedback culture. This plays into one of the golden rules for a successful feedback system - that feedback should be a continuous, regular process – not big bang. That’s the way that a feedback system becomes the way things are ‘done’ (not some short-term, short-lived program that fails to launch).
  3. Employee exposure with manager pass-ups. Beyond the recognition given by fellow employees, employee exposure can give your workforce the credit they crave from further up the workforce food chain. With Weekly10’s Manager Pass Up feature, a manager can quickly and easily ‘pass up’ the good work of an employee – forwarding it to their manager and immediately securing exposure in the wider organisation (a further driver of a culture of feedback).

Creating a self-sustaining culture of feedback demands a multi-pronged approach that considers differing preferences for feedback, and the universal disdain for traditional annual reviews that are cumbersome, clunky and expensive. By building feedback into the everyday, it becomes a driver of change and a delivery medium for peer-to-peer recognition; while exposure to upper management and the wider organisation only serve to complete an effective, virtuous feedback cycle. All of which Weekly10 makes simple and seamless.


References

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