7 Tips for Fostering a Proactive Feedback Culture in the Workplace
You should aim for a positive work environment where everyone (employees and management) is motivated to share, respond to, and act on feedback.
Such a proactive feedback culture drives organizational growth because it clarifies expectations, helps employees recognize their strengths and weaknesses, improves performance, and more.
How can you create a proactive feedback culture in your workplace? This article will explore effective tips for creating a feedback culture that drives employee productivity and organizational growth.
Tip 1: Encourage open channels of communication for feedback and suggestions
Open communication is when people can freely express their ideas and thoughts to one another.
When employees can freely express their thoughts, they feel valued. This empowers them to give their best and makes them less likely to leave the organization.
Many companies talk big about encouraging open communication, but only a few of them actually make it happen.
Practical ways to encourage open channels of communication for feedback and suggestions include:
Be generous with positive feedback
Positive feedback boosts confidence, motivates, and shows employees you value them. Many people now associate feedback with only bad news. This is because many managers remember to give feedback only when things are going wrong.
Feedback does not have to be only negative. Feedback that is positive makes employees feel valued, creating positivity in the workplace.
This increases employee engagement and makes them more open to sharing their thoughts.
Acknowledge that employee’s thoughts are important
Admitting to yourself that employees’ views matter will make you more welcoming of these views, helping you break many of the barriers that make employees struggle to open up and communicate freely with you.
For example, common reasons why employees withdraw from speaking freely include:
Managers do not bother to ask for employees' thoughts.
Managers do not pay attention when employees talk to them or condescendingly dismiss employees’ inputs.
Managers do not take any action on employees’ input.
See how admitting to yourself that employees’ thoughts are important helps you break these barriers.
When you acknowledge that employees have a unique but important viewpoint of the business, you’ll be more willing to ask for their thoughts, pay attention when they give their input, and act based on the shared thoughts.
And when employees see that you’re all of these and more, they’ll be more willing to share their thoughts and observations about how to move the business forward.
Be respectful to employees
When employees feel respected, they’ll be more open to providing feedback and suggestions. An excellent way to show respect to employees when they come to talk to you is to make it clear they have your full attention.
Continuing to type or rummage through files while they talk may give the impression that you do not respect their person or thoughts.
Therefore, you should stop what you are doing, focus on them, and actively listen to their thoughts.
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Act on employees’ feedback
Acting on employees’ feedback demonstrates that you considered their input. This makes them feel valued and more engaged and motivated.
No one likes being ignored. However, that’s what you unwittingly do when employees share their opinion, and they do not see that you acted on them.
Note that acting on employee feedback does not mean that every idea must result in a change. You should have a system to acknowledge and analyze all feedback received.
This could include discussing interesting ideas in team-specific meetings or company-wide meetings.
Given how slow such traditional processes take, you can leverage collaboration tools. It would also be nice to explain why you cannot act on specific ideas, then provide alternatives.
Tip 2: Create a safe and inclusive environment for sharing ideas
A safe environment for sharing ideas is one where employees feel comfortable opening up about their thoughts and concern without fear of retribution or ridicule.
One of the biggest barriers to open communication is fear of retribution from management.
Many organizations have a forced “happy” culture, where managers actively or passively discourage contrasting opinions, making employees reluctant to voice out any disagreement.
Employees in such organizations will simply follow instructions even when they suspect (or know) that it is drawing the organization back.
One in five Americans find their workplace hostile or threatening. So, if your employees are holding back, they may feel the environment is unsafe for sharing ideas.
Practical ways to create a safe environment for sharing ideas include:
Avoid being confrontational
Being confrontational when employees share constructive criticism or suggestions may inspire fear of retaliation. This will make them hold back their thoughts in subsequent times.
Avoid making employees feel wrong
Talking condescendingly to employees will embarrass them, making them less willing to share their thoughts in subsequent times.
Even when you don’t agree with them, don’t make them feel smacked down by your response. Instead, thank them for their input and seek more.
Create an inclusive environment
An inclusive environment welcomes and supports people with all kinds of differences. This makes people more comfortable to share their thoughts.
An inclusive workplace fosters employee accountability as it ensures that all employees (regardless of culture or experience) have equal opportunities.
Some ways to create an inclusive workplace include:
Ensure diversity when employing
Ensure no one feels marginalized
Make performance the most important evaluation criterion.
Host team lunches and other informal events
Tip 3: Establish feedback mechanisms, such as regular check-ins or suggestion platforms
Establishing feedback mechanisms gives employees the platform to freely share their thoughts and opinions, making them more likely to do so.
A feedback mechanism is a system for collecting, analyzing, and responding to employee feedback. This includes individual employee and team/ department feedback.
Some ways to establish feedback mechanisms include:
Check in with your employees regularly
Checking in on your employees regularly can help you identify and address their concerns before they become real issues. Interestingly, employees desire that managers regularly check up on them. 65% of employees desire more feedback.
Employee surveys are popular means for managers to stay in touch with their employees. Manually collecting employee surveys can be laborious.
This is where performance management platforms can help. Many of these platforms come with survey capabilities, allowing you to ask employees questions and gather their responses.
Engage your employees on a personal level
Another way to establish feedback mechanisms is by being available for your employees and engaging them on a personal level. This helps them warm up to you, making them more comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions.
Simply greeting employees and exchanging pleasantries can create a relaxed environment that encourages them to be more open to sharing feedback and suggestions.
Also, make an effort to know your employees beyond their roles. Ask them about their interests, their families, etc.
Showing interest in employees in this way tells them that you value them not just as workers (but as human beings).
Ask for anonymous suggestions
Anonymous suggestions create a judgment-free space for employees to share their concerns and opinions. An anonymous feedback system is any system that collects feedback from employees without revealing who they are.
People sharing their thoughts without management knowing their identities won’t have to worry about being judged, ridiculed, or victimized.
Thus, anonymous feedback systems create a safe space that makes employees more open to sharing their thoughts.
It empowers employees to bring matters to management that they may be uncomfortable discussing in one-on-one settings.
The traditional office suggestion box is a popular way to encourage employees to share suggestions anonymously.
There are also different tools for creating virtual suggestion boxes that allow employees to drop comments that cannot be traced to them.
For example, you can use anonymous email surveys to request feedback to gauge employee satisfaction.
Tip 4: Build trust in the workplace
Employees are more willing to open up and communicate freely when they trust their employer and colleagues. So, building trust in the workplace is a good way to foster open communication.
Trust in the workplace refers to the belief and confidence that employees have in management, their colleagues, and the organization as a whole.
Trust in the workplace is a key ingredient of employee engagement, which makes people more open to sharing their thoughts and concerns.
Some ways to build trust in the workplace include:
Empower your team by trusting them first
If your employees can see that you trust them, they’ll be more willing to trust you back. So, trusting employees is a good way to create trust in the workplace.
One way to show employees you trust them is to encourage autonomy. Allow them to do their work without micromanaging them.
You may also invite them to meetings that they would normally not attend.
For example, you may invite a sales rep to a strategy meeting to give their front-line insights to help guide sales policies.
They’ll appreciate the trust you showed in them and will be more ready to open up to you about their thoughts and concerns.
Employ honest and transparent employee communication
Consistent and regular communication can help build trust, and communication works best if it is honest and transparent. Share good and bad information, and keep everyone informed.
This creates a spirit of togetherness that increases employees’ retention and productivity. In fact, organizations that outperform their competitors are 30% more likely to identify openness as a key influence.
Being open to employees about happenings in the organization encourages them to be more open to you, thereby creating a proactive feedback culture.
Encourage employees to get to know one another
Encouraging employees to get to know one another beyond work activities is important to building workplace trust and fostering open communication.
It enhances horizontal communication and team collaboration, creating a friendly workspace where everyone is more open to giving feedback.
Be supportive of employees
Providing employees with the support they need to succeed builds trust and drives job satisfaction. In turn, the employees feel empowered to open up to you.
Some ways to create a supportive environment for employees include:
Show understanding when they make mistakes
Promote a healthy work-life balance (maybe by offering flexible work hours)
Encourage employees to strive for success in their professional lives
Tip 5: Reward employees
Rewarding feedback behavior is another way to build trust and create a feedback culture. Incentives for giving and receiving feedback motivate employees to share their thoughts freely and create a feedback culture.
One way to reward people for giving and receiving feedback is to celebrate achievements and improvements that result from feedback.
You may make the announcement in newsletters or meetings. You may also offer tangible gifts (like bonuses) or intangible incentives (like extended time off).
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Tip 6: Provide training and resources to empower employees to contribute their insights
Communication skills workshops can help employees learn how to express themselves and listen to others more efficiently. Sometimes, employees are reluctant to open up because they lack communication skills.
Training equips employees with important communication skills, making them more likely to open up and share their thoughts.
Employee training helps foster a company culture of open communication where employees freely provide feedback in the following ways:
Communication skill training will help you to be more aware of your words and body language and those of the person you are communicating with.
Such awareness helps you understand the person better and know how best to respond. You’ll understand the person’s communication style and know how to adapt.
Ability to handle conflict
Communication skills training also helps employees learn how to deal with difficult behavior. As long as you work with people, there’ll always be that difficult team member.
Not knowing how to handle conflict can lead to a communication breakdown, making it more difficult to share feedback.
Communication training helps other team members communicate effectively with a difficult person, thereby diffusing difficult situations and preventing a communication breakdown.
This leads to improved relationships and a friendlier environment for sharing feedback.
Improved relationship behavior
Communication skills training helps employees relate with others better. It teaches active listening techniques. So, employees will learn how to listen to others, empathize with others, share ideas, and more.
This helps build trust, create positive relationships, and foster a strong feedback culture.
Tip 7: Utilize technology solutions for efficient feedback collection and analysis
Technology solutions provide employees with the tools to do their jobs more efficiently.
The technology solutions help to achieve the following:
Facilitate feedback collection
Online tools can help you collect employee feedback faster than manual collection processes. Arranging interviews or sharing questionnaires for employee surveys can take time and effort.
The online tools reduce the time and effort needed to collect employee feedback.
These tools also remove barriers, making it easy for more people to participate in the communication process.
Enhances data analysis and reporting
Collecting employee feedback is not an end goal. Rather, it is a means to gain insights into moving the organization forward.
This is where data analysis and reporting comes in. You need a system to digest the collected feedback and glean insights from it. Technology solutions do this for you. These solutions offer various resources for extracting meaningful insights from collected data.
They also come with beautiful dashboards for visualizing reports, making decision-making easy.
You may also like: Performance Reports: The Key To Data-Driven Decision Making.
Takeaway: Leverage effective tips to create a proactive feedback culture in the workplace
A strong feedback culture in the workplace leads to organizational growth, as it helps you communicate expectations, explore new ideas, plug skill gaps, and more.
The seven tips mentioned above will help you create a proactive feedback structure.
If you want to leverage technology to create a company culture that encourages open communication and feedback, Kippy can be of help.
Kippy is a B2B SaaS product that allows organizations to manage their strategy, objectives, KPIs, and projects. It then allows managers to use all that information to appraise their staff.
Kippy is a superior strategy management tool with the unparalleled capability of instantly generating accurate KPIs for your objectives.
Kippy’s collaboration capabilities allow team members to share ideas and provide feedback and suggestions on tasks.
Ready to empower your entire team and drive your company forward? Book a demo today and see how Kippy can help.