Making open and regular feedback a part of your culture is an essential part of continuously improving, growing and scaling as a company. It’s also key to retaining and engaging great employees.
Here are some effective ways to encourage open feedback within your organization:
- Start with your recruiting process. If your organization values open and regular feedback, address that early on in your discussions with prospective employees. Let them know that it’s a part of your company culture and what that looks like.For example, in our organization, we make it clear from the get-go that we strongly value transparency, consistently ask for feedback in a variety of ways and regularly share team members’ (anonymous) feedback company-wide.
- Train on how to give feedback during onboarding. It’s one thing to talk about valuing open and honest feedback. It’s another to take the time to train your team members how that is done and what is expected.
- Be consistent with how and when you ask for feedback. If you ask for it randomly and inconsistently, it’s less likely to be taken seriously by your employees. However, if they understand that each week they’ll receive a question to answer anonymously via a feedback platform and every quarter they’ll be asked to fill out a short survey about how they think the company is doing, how happy/fulfilled they are in their job, etc., then giving feedback becomes a more ingrained and valued process.
- Use a feedback platform to keep a pulse on your organization (such as TINYpulse, 15five, or a similar feedback platform). We’ve been using TINYpulse for quite some time within our organization and have found it to be an excellent and efficient way of our employees to share their thoughts and feedback with the company. Their responses are anonymous and this gives our team members a safe, easy-to-use platform for expressing how they think and feel about our organization, Leadership team, their position, what we could be doing better, their concerns, suggestions, ideas, etc.We also use TINYpulse to give “cheers” to peers. This section with TINYpulse makes it easy for team members to tell their colleagues what they are doing well in their job and show them that their work is recognized and appreciated. Our team members love to receive and give cheers. It makes them feel good and connects them together through positive feedback.
- Have regular “town hall” meetings. Since ours is a remote organization with team members working all over the U.S., we have bi-monthly company-wide video calls via Zoom, a video conferencing tool. We share things such as company updates, TINYpulse feedback and the cheers that different team members were given for a job well done and for demonstrating our core values. During these “town hall” meetings, we also address questions, ideas or concerns that team members have presented.There are usually anonymous comments from TINYpulse that we also share. We often read the question(s) and then address it. This is an important step as it conveys to our employees that their feedback doesn’t just fall into a black hole. It actually gets seen, reviewed and addressed. In other words, they know that their feedback will be taken seriously and respected.
- Ask start-stop questions annually or semi-annually. This means that you ask your employees what they think the company should start doing and what it should stop The answers to these two simple questions can be profound. For example, our “start-stop” feedback led us to offer ½ day birthdays, open paid time off and adjust our 401(k) qualification time-frame. It also impacts our sales process, client engagement, meeting agendas and more.
- Establish quarterly check-ins. These check-in should be performance-based. It’s an opportunity for the employee to evaluate how they feel they are doing in their role and constructive receive feedback from their manager about what they are doing well and areas that they could work on in order to grow and advance in their career.
- Conduct exit interviews. Exit interviews are fundamental to a company that values open feedback. No one should leave your organization without first doing an exit interview as it gives them time to be forthright about why they are leaving and what your company can be doing to continue making it a good place to work.
An open feedback culture isn’t just about receiving the feedback. More importantly, it’s about responding to that feedback. If you want candid, thought-provoking feedback from your employees, you need to give them a reason to want to share it with you. To do that, it’s critical to demonstrate that you are willing to be transparent and share what is going on within the company. This includes financials, client attrition, client acquisition, goals (1 year, 3 year, 10 year, etc.) and explanations for why decisions are being made the way that they are.
While creating an open feedback culture starts with your Leadership team, it should permeate all layers within your organization. This typically requires training managers on how to give constructive, value-added feedback to their team members, as well as how to establish a healthy level of respect and trust within their teams so that people feel comfortable giving their feedback.
Promoting transparency and continuous open feedback throughout your organization can often feel like a continuous work in progress as the organization grows and evolves over time. At the end of the day, cultivating a culture that values regular and open feedback will make your company better, help you retain the right team members who are in the right seat at the right time and make your organization a better place to work.