Director at The Human Edge, Helene Vermaak, believes that by incorporating feedback into the core of a business, an organisation can transform a feedback-adverse environment into a more honest and open working culture, which will ultimately improve employee performance.
Vermaak says that in the past, feedback has been seen as being part of the dreaded annual performance review. However, she believes that this type of thinking needs to change and regular feedback has to become the accepted norm within organisations. Constant delivery of feedback allows for a quick turnaround of behaviour and gives individuals a chance to learn from their mistakes timeously – while still promoting the growth and development of new skills. Furthermore, a positive working environment can lead to high job satisfaction and employee engagement.
For many employees, especially millennials, feedback is required so that they know that they are constantly progressing in their careers. The risk of them not receiving this feedback is that they may feel that their growth is halted and they will then look to move on somewhere where they can improve their skills and move forward in their careers.
Joseph Grenny, the co-author of Crucial Conversations and cofounder of VitalSmarts, the US affiliate of The Human Edge, was quoted in the Harvard Business Review as saying that getting an early handle on minor issues before they become big problems is key. The effectiveness of a team and organisation is affected by the lag time between when problems are identified and when problems are brought out into the open.
Grenny and Vermaak advise minimising this gap by:
Zeroing-in on the source of the silence
If people are clamming up or are silent it usually means that they are holding back. Management needs to determine why, and encourage openness. Implementing a code word that encourages people to be candid can inspire openness in group settings or one-on-one conversations.
Giving people options
Group discussions don’t work for everyone, so look for alternative environments where feedback can be shared. It is often in these “safe informal environments” that issues are raised and people feel more comfortable openly expressing their true thoughts and feelings.
Cultivate a culture of candour, where your team sees you broaching those taboo subjects with your boss as well as peers.
Creating an ownership culture
Companies who have the best performing cultures promote feedback and encourage everyone in the organisation to participate and share their thoughts.
Making it routine
By developing a habit of regularly asking for feedback the more comfortable everyone will become with sharing and receiving feedback. Scheduling regular meetings with the purpose being that the team shares their issues around a project, followed by a discussion on how to deal with these challenges together.
Vermaak urges organisations to create a company culture that is devoid of employees trying to guess what their bosses think, but rather an environment where regular feedback is encouraged and requested.