How to build a strong feedback culture through 360s

If you’re anything like me, the thought of receiving feedback can fill you with dread and is painfully reminiscent of being told off by teachers at school. Unfortunately, these sentiments have been echoed in previous research, where both giving and receiving feedback has been found to evoke feelings of anxiety and extreme discomfort (Baker, Perrault, Reid, & Blanchard, 2013). This is often due to people worrying that asking for feedback, or providing negative feedback, can damage one’s self-image or relationships (Qian, Wang, Song, Li, Wu, & Fang, 2019). This type of uncomfortable introspection can often lead to feedback avoidance and missed opportunities to engage and connect with others (Baker et al., 2013). This blog will look at three key tips you need to remove feedback roadblocks and how organisations can build a strong feedback culture with the effective use of customizable 360s.

Feedback is integral to our personal and professional development, and helps us take accountability and ownership of our roles and responsibilities (Qian, Song, Jin, Wang, & Chen, 2018). Through feedback, we can gather external perspectives, define and clarify our objectives, identify our key strengths and development areas, and use these insights to align our behaviours to outcomes and intentions. Most of us want to perform well, improve, and achieve our goals, yet, by avoiding these conversations, we deny ourselves the opportunity to learn and build our capabilities.

Herein lies our problem: despite the well-documented benefits of the feedback process, the main barriers to giving and receiving meaningful feedback seem to be the perceived threats to our work relationships and self-esteem.

According to the research, these are the three key tips you need to remove these roadblocks and promote feedback-seeking in your organisation.

  • Firstly, building a strong feedback culture needs to come from the top. The biggest changes have come from leaders who talk the talk and walk the walk (Baker et al., 2013; Evans & Dobreosielska, 2019; Qian et al., 2018; 2019). Namely, those who open themselves up wholeheartedly and take feedback on subsequently role model these behaviours for others. That is, leaders who actively listen and take a genuine interest in others come across as open and supportive, which often promotes reciprocity from other employees who are then motivated to seek out these development conversations and opportunities more readily (Qian et al., 2019). By normalising feedback-seeking through your leaders, you build psychological safety across your teams and individuals (Baker et al., 2013).

 

  • Although encouraging and building a strong feedback-seeking culture is all well and good, we also need to follow this up with actually providing feedback. This might come as a no-brainer to many of us, however, Evans and Dobreosielska (2019) have shown that although feedback-seeking cultures improve task performance, this effect is greatest in people who were actually given feedback. That is, we see the biggest improvements when culture and practices are aligned – a feedback-seeking culture alone is of little use when we aren’t given the feedback we’re looking for.

 

  • We also need to instil some structure and consistency to our feedback processes. Feedback begets more feedback. Baker et al. (2013) recommend that leaders have frequent check-ins to remain aware of the issues and interests of their employees, whether these be in more formal settings or casual conversations. Opening up as many communication channels as possible will keep feedback flowing throughout your business and create an environment in which people are comfortable speaking up and taking charge. In line with this, 360° surveys were also identified as another useful channel where people can gather insights and perspectives from multiple stakeholders (Baker et al., 2013).

So, what tools are currently available to help organisations develop a strong feedback culture? One critical tool to consider is a 360° Survey.

In an ideal world, people would freely provide feedback as needed, and this feedback would be gratefully received. However, in reality, we are often reluctant to do so. As the team at Added Insight are all about developing talent and capabilities across your business, our 360° surveys are here to help you build a strong feedback culture. Through our intuitive InSite platform, we streamline your feedback process and create a safe space to share feedback anonymously, allowing us to share our thoughts and feedback without the discomfort. This is a key step in the journey towards an open feedback culture of continuous learning, where feedback is shared spontaneously and constructively.

Take the fear out of feedback and let us help you instil an open, safe, and trustworthy feedback culture to support your people.

Get in touch with the team today to find more.

References:

Baker, A., Perrault, D., Reid, A., & Blanchard, C.M. (2013). Feedback and organisations: Feedback is good, feedback-friendly culture is better. Canadian Psychology, 54(4), 260-268.

Evans, T.R. & Dobreosielska, A. (2019). Feedback-seeking culture moderates the relationship between positive feedback and task performance. Current Psychology, 1-8. DOI: 10.1007/s12144-019-00248-3.

Qian, J., Song, B., Jin, Z., Wang, B., & Chen, H. (2018). Linking empowering leadership to task performance, taking charge, and voice: The mediating role of feedback-seeking. Frontiers in Psychology, 9:2025.

Qian, J., Wang, B., Song, B., Li, X., Wu, L., & Fang, Y. (2019). It takes two to tango: The impact of leaders’ listening behaviour on employees’ feedback seeking. Current Psychology, 38, 803-810.