While many companies offer some opportunity to give and receive feedback during annual performance reviews or through yearly engagement surveys, companies with a culture of feedback make this a feature of their everyday approach to work.
In this article, we’ll explain:
- What is a culture of feedback?
- Why fostering a culture of feedback makes sense
- 7 expert tips to help you create a culture of feedback
What is a culture of feedback?
Feedback culture is all about prioritizing open and honest feedback. In a company where feedback is central to the company culture, people are encouraged to give and receive feedback freely, often, and without judgment.
At Polly, feedback is a big part of our company culture. We’ve introduced systems of continuous feedback that encourage and remind our team members to share their thoughts and ideas on a regular basis. This always-on approach to giving and receiving employee feedback is a must-have for companies that want to scale.
Why fostering a culture of feedback makes sense
Having a strong feedback culture is key to building a company where your team members are happy, engaged, and motivated to work at their best. Transparency and openness around both giving and receiving feedback helps people feel comfortable, trusted, and able to speak out when they need to.
Adopting a culture of feedback can result in these incredible benefits:
- 📣 Greater opportunities for everyone to speak out and have their voice heard
- ✔️ Higher levels of employee engagement
- 📈 Increase in employee performance and productivity
- 🔓 More trust and transparency throughout the organization
- 📲 Better communication skills
- 😀 Opportunities to resolve issues and create stronger relationships
- 🔗 Greater levels of employee satisfaction and retention
- 🏆 New ways to give praise and constructive feedback, outside performance management evaluations
- 💚 Increased employee morale, happiness, and well-being
- 🎉 Better overall employee experience
- 👍 Cultivates a growth mindset among employees
- 📊 Fresh data on what your employees truly think
- 💡 Chance to uncover not only issues but potential ideas and opportunities
Empowering your employees to speak their voice gives them a greater feeling of belonging, trust, and sense that they can have an impact. It creates a culture where people are free — and encouraged — to challenge the ordinary in favor of creating something even better. We believe that fostering a culture of feedback is the way forward for smart-thinking businesses.
7 expert tips to help you create a culture of feedback
A workplace culture centered around open and honest feedback makes perfect sense. Here’s our best advice on how to introduce this at your own organization, how to get engagement from your team members, and how to keep it all running smoothly.
1. Make it easy to give feedback
One of the main problems team members face when trying to give feedback is that there’s not always an obvious way to do it. Give your team members plenty of easy ways to share their thoughts, and you’ll soon find more of them coming in.
Invest in an employee engagement and feedback tool like Polly to help make giving feedback feel simple. Host Q&A sessions, run annual performance reviews, share engagement surveys, and run asynchronous or real-time pollys (our version of polls) to gather feedback and insights from your teams — all from within the comfort of tools you already use, like Slack or Microsoft Teams.
2. Allow for ways to give anonymous feedback
Getting positive feedback feels simple, as people love to congratulate others. It’s harder to gather negative feedback or constructive criticism, though — especially if it’s not anonymous. Introduce opportunities for your team members to give feedback anonymously, so you can get a true picture of what’s happening.
Our Open Forum feature is an ideal place for employees to share honest feedback. They can leave comments in the feedback channel anonymously, and you can reply either by name or opt to also be anonymous. Choose to reply directly in the thread, or get in touch with the contributor personally via DM — all anonymously. Open Forums and anonymous surveys are a great way to encourage all types of feedback and a chance to be more inclusive.
3. Help your teams build a habit around feedback
When something becomes a habit, you’re more likely to do it. This also applies to giving and receiving feedback, which is why it’s important to find ways to help your team build a regular feedback habit.
Include a time for questions or sharing ideas during your one-on-one meetings and on your stand-up meeting agendas. Host “Ask Me Anything” or feedback sessions on a regular basis, either as a whole organization or as a team. Schedule a request for meeting feedback or direct report feedback to go out after your check-in meetings. These actions will help create habits around sharing thoughts and concerns, so your team members will be more likely to engage.
4. Introduce feedback training
Sometimes people hold back on giving feedback because they’re not sure how to do it. This is especially relevant for negative feedback or if they want to raise a concern. Help your team members find the best way to navigate this with feedback training.
Bring in a professional trainer to teach everyone how to give effective feedback. Cover areas like giving positive feedback, how to give constructive feedback, and how to handle feedback that you weren’t expecting. This is a valuable professional development opportunity, and it gives everyone skills that will help them throughout their career. Include a short version of this as part of your onboarding process, and host refresher sessions for existing employees.
5. Adopt a culture of feedback from the top
For your feedback culture to succeed, it needs to be championed from the top. Engage your leadership team and let them lead a healthy feedback culture by showing everyone else how it works.
Partner up with your internal communications team to deliver messaging from senior leaders to the entire organization around the value of a culture of feedback. Create opportunities for everyone to see critical feedback in action — like a Q&A session or town hall meeting. Let your team members see healthy feedback play out in front of them, so they feel reassured on how to handle it and know they can share their own thoughts and concerns freely.
6. Have a process for managing feedback
Once you’ve encouraged people to share their concerns, you need a way to manage them and share updates. Have a solid feedback process so you can deal with every issue that’s raised in a fair and transparent way.
Work with your senior leadership team to come up with a process that effectively deals with both positive and negative feedback. Set timescales, identify who is responsible for handling concerns, and determine how you’ll share feedback updates with all employees. Share this policy or workflow with everyone so there’s transparency around what should happen.
7. Show that you’ll act on feedback
A major barrier for people giving their honest opinion is that they feel it won’t get acted on. Show that you mean what you say by being open and transparent about how you’re using feedback to make your organization stronger.
Follow up with team members and contributors who have brought up ideas or issues. Share updates in a public channel about initiatives you’re working on as a result of specific feedback or suggestions. Let your team members know that you read and consider anything they share with you, and prove it by giving updates on changes.
Build a feedback culture with Polly
A strong and successful feedback culture can only happen if you’re intentional about transparency, openness, and growing better together. Use these seven tips to help you introduce or shape a culture of feedback that helps you support and nurture your team members toward success.
Introduce a new and better approach to feedback with Polly onboard as your co-pilot. Use our feedback and coaching features to help you gather feedback, invite opinions, handle issues, and celebrate great ideas like a pro.
Written by Nicola Scoon
Nicola Scoon is a freelance writer that's passionate about employee engagement and better workplace experiences. She draws on her experience in internal communications to help companies create content that empowers, encourages, and motivates people to create better experiences for all.