In the past, many companies relied solely on annual reviews in order to communicate feedback to their employees regarding performance. Unfortunately, this approach does not always encourage strong workplace communication. It can even stifle a business’s progress and development, by leaving valuable resources – the employees – untapped.
While some still follow this procedure today, more businesses now pursue a different strategy, in which feedback is a major part of day-to-day business practices. This means not only giving regular feedback on performance, but allowing employees to provide their own insight into company operations as well. When done right, offices that work on fostering an open feedback culture often report a wide variety of benefits, ultimately culminating in a more successful workplace.
1. Helps Employees Feel Valued and Take Ownership
We spend a significant portion of our lives in the office, so it’s important to feel like the work we do is recognized and appreciated. Creating a feedback culture helps to show that the work each employee does matters, in both the everyday operations and in the grand scheme of things.
Moreover, giving employees the chance to offer their own feedback on the team’s operations instills a sense of ownership over their work. Rather than simply following instructions, they can begin to understand the full impact of their efforts and feel like their involvement in the company is worthwhile.
Not only does this benefit your employees, it can also give your company a boost as well. Employees who get a sense of purpose and accomplishment from their jobs are more likely to be productive and strive to turn out quality work.
2. Encourages Employee Growth and Retention
Unsurprisingly, feeling valued and empowered to take ownership in the workplace often serves as a catalyst for employee growth. Taking the time to give and receive feedback regularly also shows that the company is investing in its employees. It illustrates that not only is the work they do important, but their development and expansion is as well.
Establishing a feedback culture can even affect your attrition rates. Getting feedback each month rather than on a yearly basis can highlight the gradual growth employees go through, and encourage them to keep improving. In turn, these employees are more likely to feel a connection to their positions, and choose to stay with the company. Meanwhile, employees who feel stagnant in their careers are often more likely to pursue other jobs.
3. Creates a Collaborative Environment
Another benefit of feedback culture is that it helps to improve workplace communication overall. When you create an open dialogue between yourself, your managers and the rest of your employees, it can make each project feel more collaborative.
Employees who are encouraged to share their honest feedback with management, often begin to have that same openness and honesty with their coworkers. This can result in more productive meetings and conversations about company goals, team objectives and project deadlines.
Open feedback also helps employees feel engaged and comfortable relying on each other, which results in more cohesive work overall. While each employee is encouraged to take ownership of his or her portion of the work, he or she can also see how others’ efforts and ideas fit into the picture.
4. Opens the Door for New Ideas
Not only can a feedback culture empower your employees, it can also bring valuable changes to your company as a whole. It’s easy to fall into the same patterns in your business when you don’t have anyone to challenge your perspective.
This is where you can begin to take advantage of your greatest resource: your employees. There is no better way to break out of your own echo chamber than to get feedback from those you work with every day.
A byproduct of better communication from office feedback culture is that it creates a space to cultivate new ideas. You are more likely to hear strategies that you haven’t heard before, since each member of the team is empowered to share his or her point of view.
Creating a Feedback Culture
So how do you begin to create a feedback culture in your workplace? It can take time for this development to take hold, as each of the members on your team needs to adjust to giving and receiving more open feedback. There are a number of steps you can take to ease the process and ensure you find success:
- Meet with employees one-on-one on a regular basis. The key to getting your employees comfortable with feedback is to create a routine around it. You can do this by designating particular days during the month for feedback, so your employees have clear expectations and time to prepare.
- Organize feedback training for management positions. It is important to realize that not everyone is skilled in giving or receiving feedback. When not approached correctly, this exercise can actually hurt more than help your team. To help the leaders in your company learn how to give and receive feedback in a constructive way, you can organize training sessions to prepare them for this portion of their roles. It also helps to talk to your team as a whole and encourage them to approach feedback sessions with an open mind.
- Provide more than one avenue for feedback. Despite your preparations, not everyone will feel comfortable giving feedback in a one-on-one meeting (at least not at first). To ensure you get the most honest answers, give your employees different opportunities to give their own feedback. For example, you can try anonymous surveys and group brainstorming sessions about new projects.
- Act on the feedback and discuss the impact of your changes. Feedback culture doesn’t mean much of anything unless you take the responses you receive and act on them. While you don’t have to oblige every idea and opinion, it is important to take each one into consideration and employ those you think will lead to improvements. For ideas you do not end up using, explaining why you made your decision can help to ensure that your employees still feel heard.