10 Sep

Feedback culture

“Ask for feedback from people with diverse backgrounds. Each one will tell you one useful thing.”    – Steve Jobs

Have you ever worked in an organisation with a feedback culture? Not sure?

If you had, you would know.

A company with a feedback culture is one that welcomes feedback as a method of learning and consequently as a way of investing in its people. Feedback has no hierarchy – it can be given up, down and sideways in the ‘chain of command’. These organisations provide an environment where reinforcement of things done well take equal precedent with feedback on developmental areas.

It is said that a company’s feedback culture is shaped by three categories of organisational practices (Feedback orientation, feedback culture and the longitudinal performance management process. Manuel London and James Smither):

  • Those that impact the quality of feedback   e.g. training on providing effective feedback
  • Those that emphasise the importance of feedback to the organisation   e.g. how managers lead by example in giving and receiving feedback
  • Those that support using the feedback   e.g. providing coaching to employees

A company with a feedback culture is one that is committed to its people, focussed on retaining talent and to creating a ‘learning organisation.’ Consequently these companies tend to have more productive and engaged employees, more honesty and less conflict, and an ability to adapt in times of change.

If there is no feedback culture, this can impact other aspects of organisational culture. Often employees are resistant to change, resentful of performance management practices, and in extreme cases can suffer from negativity and blame seeking.

To create a culture that welcomes feedback and uses it effectively, companies need to ensure that all employees are trained on giving and receiving feedback well and are coached to develop an understanding of the benefits of feedback. In addition, it is imperative that leaders are demonstrating effective feedback behaviours and promoting core values of trust and honesty.

So, does your organisation have a feedback culture? If not, what does it need to do to create one?