Receiving and Offering Feedback: An Organizational Culture Worth Building
Cultivating a culture of healthy feedback – receiving and offering it – takes time and intentional work in multiple areas. It can begin during onboarding and run through to the exit interview. Leaders can model healthy feedback processes and ensure commitment at all levels of an organization. It can take place in one-on-one settings as well as collectively in groups, personally and professionally.
Building an organizational culture of receiving and offering feedback demands vulnerability and can be difficult. All this to say, it’s worth it.
There are many reasons to build a culture of healthy feedback.
- It builds trust. When we experience deep gratitude for feedback offered, we will most likely offer more in the future. When we see a person offer feedback in love and humility, we will most likely be keen to receive it again.
- It creates a culture of mutual learning. Authentic feedback offers a window into personal and professional growth. When offered and received as such, its value is felt.
- It gets easier the more you do it. This is true for most things in life – the more you invite and offer feedback, the more you will value it and the easier it will become.
- Ask for it. This is a personal discipline professionals can foster in themselves. When others see this sort of vulnerability and keenness to learn, they will be inspired. Receiving feedback before offering it, is a mind shift.
- Change our language. For most of us, we talk about ‘giving’ feedback. However, ‘offering’ can feel more invitational.
- A culture of feedback requires mutual respect and safety. Team building activities are one way to get started helping everyone to get comfortable with the vulnerability of feedback.
- It is a skillset and a mindset. Indeed it is a ‘muscle’ to exercise – the more you do it, the easier it gets. As well, seeking to understand will offer deep rewards.
- Be mindful of power differences in the relationship. This will impact the safety and willingness to be truthful and vulnerable in the conversation. The intention and tone of the invitation is important.
- Create intentional feedback cycles. It is helpful to ensure enough frequency and that it is embedded in the day-to-day work life instead of waiting for something to go wrong. Build in the time and space in projects and in regular routines for checking in to support what’s working well.
- Collective feedback is helpful for projects involving multiple people. Fostering collective action-reflection can be powerful.
Below are tips to consider when receiving feedback:
- Receive feedback as a gift. It can take great courage to offer feedback, especially when it is tough feedback. Recognizing the gift of truth offered in love, can be powerful.
- Be transparent about what will be done with what is received. Hearing what a person will do with what is offered can feel respectful – I know you were listening and are taking this seriously.
- Model vulnerability. Receiving tough feedback graciously and gratefully can be moving as well as inspiring. Show that you are listening by how you respond.
- Resist long explanations about why something happened. It can feel important to explain why something was done (or not done) in a certain way. However, the intention is often known – it is the impact that a person is trying to explain. Share gratitude for the positive as well as the tougher ideas.
- Let the feedback marinate. To ensure you receive what needs to be offered, it is important to give enough time for this sharing as well as reflecting on what is shared. You may wish to have a follow up conversation.
Here are tips to consider when offering feedback:
- Clarify the impact it had on you or others. Intent is often not the same as impact, and impact is critical to understand.
- Select the space and time carefully. Safety is important for all parties involved and will aid in the receiving and the offering of feedback. Check where the person is at, before offering feedback – immediate sharing after an incident may not be the best time for the person(s) involved. Privacy is often key.
- Be specific. Sharing when something happened, what was happening at the time, and how something felt, can be helpful.
- Don’t let your assumptions be your guide. It is important to seek to understand and communicate a genuine appreciation for what is being offered. This will also encourage future sharing.
- Clarify boundaries when having difficult feedback conversations. You will know best where these are and why.
Receiving and offering feedback is not always easy. However, much can be learned in the discipline of both activities. A key to cultivating a healthy culture of feedback is staying open, humble and genuinely curious.
What have you found helpful in receiving or offering feedback?
This blog was written with input from the GLP Community of Practice, we call the Certified Network, and was inspired by the blog GLP’s Feedback Culture: Tending the Garden. The Network members present at this gathering were: Andrea Van Liew, Andi Waisman, Angela Sims Windrey, Claire Boswell, Chris Cousino, Elena Mondo, Gillian Ferwerda, Jenny Giezendanner, Juliane Tomlin, Karen Wilk, Lama Kamal, Linda Gershuny, Mary DeCoster, Mary Hoddy, Michael Elfant, Muhia Karianjahi, Rebecca Miller, Rebecca Olechowski, Russ Mitchell, Tonjala Eaton, and Tyler Phillips. Beth Clark, Shon Morris and Valerie Uccellani presented lessons learned and tips about receiving and offering feedback. Jeanette Romkema, and Anne Smith hosted the event. Jeanette and Rachel Nicolosi pulled all that was offered by the group into this blog.
Read more HERE, to learn about becoming part of the Certified Network.
- GLP’s Feedback Culture: Tending the Garden
- How Am I Doing: The Importance of Feedback in Higher Education
- 10 Ways to Get Some Quick Feedback
- Being a Contemplative Practitioner