Giving and receiving feedback in the workplace can be an uncomfortable exercise, and is often avoided due to the lack of understanding in a feedback culture. Unfortunately, such avoidance can hinder not only your performance but also growth in your business.
As well as giving feedback to your team, it’s also important that your team give feedback to you, the business owner. In fact, encouraging your team to openly provide both constructive and appreciative feedback gives you an accurate picture of your strengths, weaknesses and where you can better leverage your skills. This level of informal feedback can enhance development and make you better at what you do and propel you towards your goals.
“We all need people who give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”Bill Gates, Microsoft
A Culture of Feedback
To make it clear, feedback is not a performance review, rather than an informal sharing that can happen at any time to help someone improve. Understand that feedback isn’t bad, and it can help to create a healthy environment, boost engagement and helps team members grow and learn. Incorporating feedback into your culture is part of the process of systemising your business. The main goals of creating a systemised business are to improve operations and make it easier to scale. Encouraging feedback from customers and your team helps to improve every aspect of the business and make better informed decisions. Systems driven businesses constantly search for ways to improve, “continuous improvement” is not just a catchline. This simple change in your workplace culture, where feedback is welcomed rather than shunned, will help build trust amongst your team as well as normalising feedback to get stronger and do better. Consider including feedback as one of your guiding principles, for example:
“We are committed to giving and receiving feedback to help every team member improve their performance.”
Practice this principle, and you will always have a highly engaged and high performing team.
Here are some simple ideas for giving and receiving feedback and how to use them to become better at what you do.
Giving Constructive Feedback
Start with one important action
Being the person to give constructive feedback can be equally as uncomfortable as receiving it. The last thing you want to do is make the person feel uncomfortable or put them down.
The goal of giving feedback is to help the person learn and grow so they can reach their full potential. When giving feedback, remember this one critical action – ask!
By asking the question “do you mind if I give you some feedback?”, is not only respectful, but it gives the person the option to respond.
Three things to do when giving feedback
When you give feedback, it can be a confusing thing for the person receiving it. They may get defensive and see it as criticism instead of a tool to use for learning and growth.
By following a simple checklist in your head, you can turn this seemingly negative experience into something positive. These three short points will help you give quality feedback and direction.
- Give the person something to keep doing
- Give the person something to stop doing
- Give the person something to start doing
This simple process gives the person directions rather than telling them their idea isn’t great. It gives them useful feedback to grow on.
“Feedback is the breakfast of champions”.Ken Blanchard
Receiving Constructive Feedback
Teach people to give you feedback
When receiving feedback, it is natural to feel like you are being told off. Body language is often defensive (frowning, crossed arms), and you might only use one-word answers when you reply. You may also try and shut down the criticism by arguing the person. When a person feels intimidated when giving feedback, they may start talking about it behind your back, which will destroy any chance of building trust amongst the team.
If you don’t allow people to give you feedback, this may stop you from improving and working better.
- Nobody is perfect, and everybody can learn from feedback.
- Every time you get feedback, think about becoming stronger, and better at what you do.
- Thank the person for the feedback.
Use feedback to your advantage
If you are serious about becoming better at what you do, and reaching your goals quicker, then being open to feedback will have significant advantages for you. When you learn, the most important thing is to understand it and use it to make you better. By doing so, you increase your knowledge, build the learning muscles and increase your skill-set.
When you receive feedback:
- Actively listen and absorb the content.
- Use the feedback to make you stronger.
- Try to understand it by using phrases like “Is this what you are talking about?” Or “Help me understand” or “Do I hear you right about this?”
- Ask questions until you understand where they are coming from.
- Reflect and decide what to do next.
- Choose your next course of action.
- Follow-up with the person.
Developing a receiving feedback mindset
It’s one thing to understand best-practise on paper, but it’s quite another to have the courage to engage in these behaviours in real life. By gaining the courage to give and receive feedback openly, you can reap the benefits of developing yourself and others faster and building stronger relationships.
Creating a culture of giving and receiving feedback within your workplace is uncomfortable territory for most people, so here are three areas of encouragement for you to embrace the practice of receiving feedback from others. All feedback is perception: Others perceive you differently to what you do; therefore, their perception of what you did maybe clouded by their own filters. When you receive feedback, remember that ‘this is a perception of a specific behaviour’ and not how they perceive you as a person.
1. All feedback is perception
Others perceive you differently to what you do; therefore, their perception of what you did maybe clouded by their own filters. When you receive feedback, remember that ‘this is a perception of a specific behaviour’ and not how they perceive you as a person.
Having this perspective allows you to stay in a judgement-free mindset when you hear something that you may disagree with, or you deem unfair. It is all perception!
2. People have their opinions about you already
Requesting, or receiving feedback gives you a chance to hear what they think so you can then choose whether you want to do something about it or not. Your goal is to listen and accept that the person has a particular opinion about your work/behaviour, but accepting that they have an opinion doesn’t mean you have to agree with it.
By doing so, you can accept their opinion without judgement of yourself.
3. You don’t always have to act on feedback
There is a misconception that if you receive feedback, and listen to it, then you have to act on it. What is more important is that you actively listen, take it on board, reflect and then decide if you need to act on it. By listening without judgement, you build a better relationship with someone when the person feels heard.
To be respectful of someone else’s opinion, it would be best if you reinforced the value you place on their feedback and follow-up. Let them know what you did, did not do and why. What is most important is that you listened to and respected their opinion.
“Our secret weapon for building the best culture is open and honest feedback.”Gina Lau
Ask for feedback
To enhance the culture of sharing within your workplace, you can ask for feedback. You may want to develop new skills, reach a new career milestone, or improve in what you currently do.
Asking for feedback doesn’t have to be a formal process; instead, you can ask these simple questions to help you identify areas where you may need development.
- What is one thing I do well?
- What is one thing you think I need to improve on?
- What is one thing you think I need to stop doing?
- What is one thing you think I need to do differently?
- Is there anything I need to do more of?
- Is there anything I need to do less of?
Remember, you don’t need to ask all of these questions, so think of these as a guide. By asking for feedback, it will help you gain confidence, develop a good habit and reinforce a culture where receiving feedback is a positive thing.
Developing a culture of sharing feedback in the workplace is a positive thing, with benefits for all. Not only can you learn, grow and develop, but getting out of your comfort zone can be a liberating experience. If you are the person giving the feedback, remember to be respectful, offer constructive feedback and discuss what the person should keep doing, stop doing and start doing. This method provides direction and useful information for the person to build on. If you are the person receiving the feedback, remember that it is their perspective on your work/behaviour, and it is not mandatory to act on it. Allow yourself to self-evaluate, reflect and come up with a plan. Sometimes being heard is all they want, and besides, you may find yourself doing better at what you do. When you practise sharing in the workplace, you are building a culture of trust and this contributes to the overall success of the business.
Feedback is an important part of a systemised business making your people more engaged and motivated in their work.
Want to build a culture of feedback in your business? If you need help with systems to build a business that works, even when you’re not there, let’s talk. Business Systems Made Simple has been designed for small owners who want a systemised business without taking years and several failed attempts to get there. To find out more, schedule a call today.