Feedback in hybrid workplaces – Part 1

The past few years we have seen a significant decline in people giving and receiving useful feedback in the workplace – specifically around the gaps. We are seeing that people are avoiding challenging ideas, managing up, holding people to account and giving feedback. Many are saying; ‘I need to wait to do it face to face’ or ‘I can’t have that conversation because it will upset them’ and/or ‘It’s just weird online’.

Any of these sound familiar? You’re not alone.

I’ve been researching cultures in 100% remote workplaces and working with organisations who have moved to nearly all remote cultures. I am finding (how convenient right?!) the successful ones have feedback and communication as one of their core foundations. 

An organisation that is nailing remote, is highly successful, and is receiving some incredible engagement data from its employees is Buffer. Buffer is the #1 social media scheduler for Australia. We use them. They make social marketing easier. They are a fully remote business. They have employees in 21 countries around the world. That’s a lot of time zones and a lot of cultural diversity.

Buffer does this by living their values. One of them is ‘Default to transparency: Always state your thoughts immediately and with honesty’. Backed up with ‘Listen first, listen more’. These complement each other so well. Give feedback and then sit back and listen, then listen more. Just… so…. good. And simple.

Feedback is not location dependent. We don’t need to be face to face to do it or to do it well. We just need to learn how to do it. It’s not the medium we need to change – it’s our thinking.

Delivering and receiving feedback in this new, and here to stay, hybrid world is new for many. It creates uncertainty in how we do it. People typically choose unhappiness over uncertainty. We would rather be fearful of a conversation and not have it, than walking into something that feels unknown. Does this feel true for you?

Now we all know that values don’t make a business. It’s setting up the conditions to live them and having conversations with people when they are not.

I suggest we start with Buffer’s thinking and become more obsessed with understanding another’s perspective, than defending your own. That way, we are leaning into feedback to learn – not to tell. 

If you want to hear more about why feedback feels so hard and what you can do about you should come to my next online event Embedding a Feedback Culture in 2023. Check it out here.