Top-Shelf Tip No. 75:

"We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve."

Bill Gates

How To Create A Culture Of Feedback

In many organizations, managers are stretched thin with their own day-to-day responsibilities. They don't always have time to ensure each member of their team receives regular and appropriate feedback. This often sets managers up to fail.

Jeff Diana, a consultant who works with high-growth companies around the world, says that instead of struggling with this broken approach, companies should explore a culture of feedback that frees managers from being the single channel of feedback. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we explore Diana's thoughts on the four areas companies must master to empower their whole organization.

Values. Diana suggests that companies begin by doing a gut check on their company values, how they articulate them and the behaviors they reward. Do your company values speak to empowerment, transparency and an open flow of communication? How about collaboration? Individuals must have the opportunity to learn from others if they want to grow. Make sure your company values promote a culture of feedback to ensure you're building on a strong foundation.

Soft structure. Diana says that after you establish alignment with values, you can look at how your company operates. Consider the typical information flow, operating rhythm, ease of sharing, information accessibility, available tools and your organization's decision-making process. Soft structure also includes your performance feedback process. It's important to review all of these soft structure elements when you want to create a culture of feedback in your day-to-day operations.

Hard structure. Like layers of hierarchy, hard structure elements often present more of a challenge than soft structure elements. The more layers of hierarchy that exist, the harder it is for information to flow freely. Diana says it's common in deeply layered organizations for a few individuals at the top to hoard decision-making responsibilities. People can get caught up in their titles, levels and reporting relationships, so it may take a little more work to untangle from hard structures. But the effort will be worth it if you can remove barriers that inhibit the flow of feedback.

Practices and tools. To create a culture of feedback, you must consider the tools and practices you use in the feedback process. It's important to create an environment in which people receive timely feedback. Diana suggests starting with one-on-ones and then incorporating quarterly check-ins and project-based feedback cycles. In a true culture of feedback, there's also a balance of power between a manager and an employee, which allows feedback to flow both ways. If your company currently uses peer reviews, Diana recommends dropping this practice. He says it almost always results in lower quality feedback and rampant reciprocity.

A culture of feedback takes undue pressure off managers and empowers each team member to seek out the feedback and guidance they need. In the end, everyone is better equipped to do their job and move the company forward.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Jeff Diana works with high-growth, pre-IPO companies globally on how to successfully scale their businesses from go-to-market design and product roadmaps to senior leadership assessment and organization structure. He builds world-class, customized HR programs and designs cultures that thrive.

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