Most organisations and individuals understand the value and power of giving and receiving feedback. We are aware it builds trust and respect between our employees, customers and stakeholders. We know that great conversations lead to better outcomes and therefore productivity and profit. So we send our people to a training program in the hope they will come back changed.
Yet we find that our people, and if we are honest… ourselves, still avoid it or handle it feedback poorly.
BRW Magazine, who recognises and awards the ‘Best Places to Work’, sites one of the contributing factors creating these high performance workplaces is where ‘the bosses saw issues from the employee’s point of view, gave meaningful feedback and information’.
I know this to be true as I work with many of them and they are committed to improving the quality of their conversations. Then they improve collaboration with each other and their customers, driving better strategies and relationships. The great companies get it. No wonder they are becoming the places that employees flock to and stay with.
So if we want to remain not only competitive, but ahead of the game, we need to move into the future and have feedback become part of our everyday. Part of how we flow. Creating a feedback flow is how high-performing organisations get things done and create happy, fully engaged employees and customers. It is where we reverse the push of giving feedback and add to it the pull of receiving it, and alter systems to create an even flow.
So why doesn’t everyone implement powerful feedback cultures?
The main reasons that get in the way of leaders and organisations creating these cultures are;
- Organisations don’t muster the courage to invest in their people and culture. They are stuck in the past and they just don’t get it. Even for those that value and encourage feedback it is still not translating into action, or the actions are often damaging.
- People think the change will be too hard and too disruptive. Creating a cultural shift requires effort, but taking out a layer of processes and systems that use considerable time for little or no result will free up time to focus on actual improvement.
- We blame the organisation and its leaders for failures in feedback and get stuck in what I call ‘the blame trap’. Getting stuck in the blame trap means we blame others, organisations and leaders and do not take any responsibility ourselves. It’s not a healthy space, and nor does it allow anyone to move forward.
- We think that ‘robust’ six monthly or annual performance reviews will be enough. It won’t. This is old school thinking.
Increasingly the progressive companies are recognizing this and ditching the performance reviews in place of feedback cultures and regular ‘check ins’. Adobe led the way, soon followed by Juniper, Accenture, Microsoft, Deloitte, Zappos, Expedia, Dell and GE. It’s no surprise these are the ones that attract the best and brightest as they are receiving the feedback they need and deserve, improving themselves and productivity as a result.
We need to make the changes to not only get ahead but to stay there. Fixing feedback is about creating a cultural cadence. It’s more than feedback training. It’s about creating a self-sustaining flow that feeds itself and becomes effortless. The onus is on both parties: one to deliver the feedback, in real time, and the other to receive it well, in the moment. The outcomes of this are:
- eliminate dependence on performance management systems
- significantly improve productivity
- create a culture of accountability and commitment
- evolve authentic transparency and openness
- allow individuals to own their own development
When we create a frequency of accountability that feeds itself, giving and receiving becomes an inevitable part of the way you do business. You and the organisation are in your flow. You and your people become remarkable and no one can stop talking about it.
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