Feedback culture matters

Why may the practice of building feedback not bring the desired result? The answer to this question is both complex and simple at the same time. Tools are just the tip of the feedback culture iceberg. It is important to understand what is hidden under the ocean. A systematic approach to building a feedback culture will help us do this. We want to share it with you in this article.

A systematic approach to feedback culture

“There is nothing more practical than a good theory” – this is the principle that guided us when creating a systematic approach to creating a feedback culture. As a basis, we took the three-level model of organizational culture by Edgar Schein, which consists of basic assumptions, values, and artifacts. Let’s look at each of its levels through a feedback lens.

1. Basic assumptions

It is important that the top executives of the company and all employees see the meaning in the feedback. After all, if there is no feedback culture, then the entire organization, especially if it has many management levels, will turn into a broken phone. Information will get stuck at hierarchical levels and reach recipients in a distorted form. Moreover, employees can lose the meaning of their activities if they realize that they are just “cogs” in the machine of the organization and that no one is interested in their opinion. What is the first step to take to improve your feedback culture? It is important to show to the company’s top management and employees the meaning of a feedback culture.

2. Values

Before moving on to specific practices and tools, it is important to understand why the company needs feedback? What value will it give to the business? How will it affect the company’s strategy? By building a logical chain “feedback purpose – feedback gathering process and procedures – management decisions” you can avoid the most important mistake: feedback devaluation. After all, if employees do not understand what the feedback is for and what the company will do on its basis, then the attitude to this process will be, at best, indifferent, and at worst, cynical. Therefore, in addition to formulating the meaning of the feedback, tell employees how the feedback results will be translated into management decisions.

3. Artifacts

After we have figured out the foundation of our feedback culture pyramid, let’s move on to building the feedback gathering process itself, to specific practices – the tip of the iceberg. We reviewed scientific articles, business sources, and conducted our own research on safety culture. And on the basis of this data, we developed 4 principles for building a feedback procedure.

Regularity and frequency

Annual engagement surveys provide a basic snapshot of opinion. However, this does not mean that the company should be idle for 365 days between these studies. After all, significant events can happen suddenly, and management needs instant feedback. Therefore, many foreign and Russian companies (Sberbank, 12STOREES, FMlogistics, Netflix) use regular pulse surveys once a week or once a month.

Speed of filling

The most expensive resource for each employee is time. Especially in times of change or high workload, even the most involved employee can ignore a request for feedback. Therefore, using the tool should take as little time as possible, ideally up to 5 minutes.

Convenience

Participation in the feedback gathering process should be convenient and fun for employees. After all, if employees are uncomfortable with using the tool, then such a negative attitude can affect the feedback results themselves.

Anonymity

The biggest fear of employees is that their answers will be known to management. And this fear is quite reasonable because a spoiled relationship with bosses can ruin a career. However, despite beliefs and communications from the HR department regarding anonymity, employees continue to question the confidentiality of their responses. Modern practices in the form of encrypted chatbots, where employees choose the anonymity mode, will help to solve this problem. Also, employees need to demonstrate in detail the functionality of the tool to dispel their doubts.

“To keep employees engaged, thriving and performing effectively” is the main goal of creating a feedback culture in the company. The classic tools for achieving this goal have long been known: these are engagement surveys, pulse surveys, 360 assessments, or one-to-one conversations. Bersin estimates that the annual investment in building a feedback culture is $ 1 billion. However, the exhaust from current feedback gathering practices is extremely small. According to Gallup, only 30% of employees are truly involved in the work process.

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