How to Use Feedback to End Gossip and Boost Morale

By David Hassell

Bitterness, gossip, procrastination, and resentment.

Sound familiar? This could be your organization.

A recent study on workplace culture reported that managers in the U.S. spend 14% of their time redoing or correcting the mistakes of others – approximately one hour every day. Time wasted that could easily be avoided had they spent the equal amount of time implementing a culture of feedback instead.

The importance of employee feedback in high performance cultures is growing as more company founders, CEO’s, managers and presidents realize the benefits of continually striving for improvement. To grow better and faster requires open communication channels within the organization. And, most of the time, it’s as simple as real and regular conversations with managers. But how can YOU do it?

Creating a Culture of Feedback

All too often, managers view feedback as a dreaded chore, and staff might greet it with some apprehensiveness as well. More often than not, this reaction comes from our conditioning around what it means, how it’s delivered and the silo effect. It can create anxiety and worry. But it shouldn’t. Instead, organizations should embrace an environment where acknowledgment is expected and welcomed.

“Feedback gives employees the opportunity to change behavior and also to charge forward,” says explains Nancy Mobley in an article for Inc.com, “but if they don’t know what worked and what didn’t, how can we expect them to perform to their full potential?” Since things can change, for the better or the worse, at a drop of a dime, and new developments or breakthroughs can occur overnight, implementing feedback as part of your company culture will help grow your business.

There are four key elements to creating a culture where feedback is valued:

1. Dialogue is a Two Way Street

In order for communication channels to be effective, they must work from the top down and from the bottom up. This allows for everyone to feel as though their thoughts are welcomed and appreciated. Employees at every level must see it as a way that they can contribute to their personal success, as well as the success of the organization.

“The basic building block of good communications is the feeling that every human being is unique and of value.” – Unknown

2. Leaders Must be Role Models

If staff are being encouraged to give and receive feedback on a regular basis, they must see company leadership role modeling the same behaviors. This conveys the message that regardless of executive standing, every person has room for improvement and can benefit from regular check-ins.

Just because you may be the ‘boss’ does not mean you are opted out of the feedback loop. In fact, it is even more important that you receive acknowledgement and opinions from your peers/colleagues at the same interval as the rest of the organization. For example, why not try asking a younger, less senior hire what they think about a project you have been working on. Regardless of the size of the project, asking for their opinion will make them feel valued. You might be surprised by their knowledge and ideas.

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” – James Humes

3. Clear Channels of Communication Must be Established

Team members need to have readily accessible tools to provide feedback to their peers, staff and managers. When staff are aware of the various channels that have been put in place for their benefit, they are more likely to make use of them.

In their book Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, Kaye and Giulloni discuss the importance of establishing consistent feedback and reviews beyond the quarterly or annual performance evaluation. “Study after study confirms that development is the single most powerful tool managers have for driving engagement, retention, productivity, and results.” And you can’t help your team grow if you are only freely available to chat every few months or, worse, yearly. Implementing open and clear channels of communication because you want to will help you retain and develop your best talent.

“Communicate unto the other person that which you would want him to communicate unto you if your positions were reversed.” – Aaron Goldman

4. Action Must be Taken

In order to get buy-in from staff, they must feel confident in the knowledge that their feedback will be seriously considered and acted upon, if necessary. Staff will only be motivated to take the time to provide thoughtful observation if they feel as though meaningful change will come of it. Even if no changes are required as a result of it, it is important to acknowledge that the feedback was received.

“Preaching for life changes requires far less information and more application. Less explanation and more inspiration.” –  Andy Stanley

Feedback is just as much what we say, as how we deliver it. Creating a culture around it shouldn’t be used to as a tool to enforce control, but rather as a way of lifting people up.

So if you have something that you have been itching to share, I personally encourage you to speak up. And the next time someone approaches you with a constructive suggestion, or a compliment on a job well done, I hope you take the time to fully absorb that feedback and use it to your fullest advantage.

Does your workplace encourage feedback?

Image CreditCoolio Claire


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Leadership

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