For decades’ companies have experimented with a myriad of employee assessment models. Some assessments fit better than others albeit most formal assessments are often prolonged and too corrective action oriented. Furthermore, formal assessments often take place after undesirable behaviors or actions have already occurred or worse have become chronic. Imagine how much collective time we would save in wasteful sideline chatter if we were able to engage in healthy and mutually agreeable conversations throughout our teams. I do not mean to oversimplify the complexity of communication, but it is important not to overly complicate feedback either. Through my career spanning several industries I discovered the transformative benefits of frequent face to face feedback. Help your team create the healthiest communication ecosystems that will directly benefit efficiency and effectiveness.
Here are some tips on how to create a frequent feedback culture:
1) Make Feedback Enjoyable
When most people hear their colleagues or boss say they want to provide you with some feedback it sparks a heart thumping panic and triggers the ruminating question…. oh no, where did I screw up? I hate that feedback sessions are often anticipated with dread when it does not have to be that way. What if companies could construct feedback practices that are even enjoyable? Seem Radical? Think twice! At Palette Hotels Developments, a premier hotel management company in Texas, staff are giving formal feedback a facelift. Palette Hotels decided to upgrade the lengthy and sometimes harmful practice of formal 360 assessments for a new kind of radical feedback model called 180 On the Move. Most of us do not have time to collect and receive feedback from everyone in our sphere in timely fashion but we can get feedback from those in our hemisphere more readily. The ‘On the Move’ connotes the dynamic and consistent nature of this model.
180 sessions always start by celebrating the accomplishments made from the last session. Bring your teams favorite food and make it a time that is special. During the meeting, each participant is given the same set of prompts such as, “I admire how you__________. I feel aligned with you when___________. One way you can make our partnership stronger is by_______. During the process thoughtful notes are taken and the session culminates with drawn-out pledges constructed between the participants. The pledges must be realistic, achievable and agreed upon as mutually beneficial. Though the 180-feedback process is meant to be fluid in nature it is also important to maintain structure with the prompts, turn taking and setting time guidelines. Each time your team meets again your pledges will be examined, tweaked, or replaced. The goal is to constantly get better both as a team and individually. Accountability is built in with the pledges. The key to its success is to make feedback sessions a reliable part of your team’s communication culture.
2) Utilize Two Pluses And A Push (2 to 1 ratio)
I love this technique which I carried with me from my middle school teaching days, and it works well to bolster the effectiveness of the feedback session. This was inspired when I realized how much better my students felt when I provided them authentic positive feedback and a little push of encouragement outlining specifically how to get better. When providing feedback think of the 2 to 1 ratio. Provide two specific examples of where your teammate did well, followed by one area that can be improved. This lets the receiver know that you weigh their contributions more heavily and that you are co-invested in their holistic professional growth. Here is an example…. I notice that your work is always done on time and that you deliver projects before deadlines. This really helps motivate your whole team to stay on schedule. I value your speed in delivery and now I want you to focus on editing your work as well to help you avoid the inevitable grammatical errors. Like you, I want your work to be showcased to the company in the best light. Taking that time to turn in your work clean will demonstrate your attention to detail as well as deadline. Is there anything you need from me to help you accomplish this?
3) Make Feedback Spontaneous
I remember back in my days in elementary school when teachers would reward students when we were caught doing something good. My favorite teacher, Mrs. Rogers would distribute “lucky bucks” our classroom currency, to pay for items at the end of the month homemade baking sale. As students we would get pumped up to earn as many lucky bucks as we could. Earning a lucky buck provided us instant recognition of a job well done and the long-term engagement was solidified with her baking sales. It was brilliant! We loved the positive attention and the feeling of being special and recognized. I often wonder why it is, that as we transition into our professional adult lives, we discontinue feedback techniques that were so effective and fun for us when we were young. We have got to bring the fun factor up a notch with feedback. I knew an Executive Director that always carried lifesaver candies in his pocket and every time he saw someone going above and beyond, he would unpeel a candy and say thanks for being a life savor today. It may sound cheesy, but his people loved it because it was authentically him. Come up with something that is authentically you.
4) Keep Your Feedback Real
Ever witness your boss randomly walk past with a pinned-up smile giving out air high fives randomly and you’re thinking, hmmmm…this feels like a bit of phony pageantry. How about being told, “you’re so awesome “or “you rock,” and you’re thinking hmmmm…the last time you spoke to me was like months ago. Broad stroke words sound pompous and lack substance and even worse they can feel like a cheap platitude. Telling someone they are awesome does not affirm and acknowledge a specific action, behavior, or result. Real communication, however, lets the receiver know specifically how, why and when he/she is in fact awesome. This helps that person repeat this again since awareness is built. Real communication is not draped in ambiguity but powerfully poignant, providing context and specificity and time. Example… “Vicky, I appreciate you getting my back today at the meeting when I could not remember the data point. You helped me seal the deal today and you did not have to. Thank you! “
5) Examine Your Focus Prior to Giving Feedback
How are you feeling when you are considering giving someone feedback? Are you angry? Happy? Anxious? Frustrated? Encouraged? Consider the phenomenon of Emotional Contagion. This phenomenon asserts that our own personal emotions can directly trigger similar emotions in another person. This is amplified if you are the person in a position of authority. Therefore, figure out the emotions you want to elicit from the receiver. If you are tempted to lambast a colleague, you will likely get anger or defensiveness in return. Keep in mind that contagions spread, and it will work its way back to you eventually. Strategically, you want to create and emotional win-win in advance. If you are seeking to elicit enthusiasm, be enthusiastic. If you are seeking conscientiousness, be conscientious. Be cognizant that the emotion that you bring into a space will permeate. Get your focus right from the start.
6) Good Timing, Good Outcome
When your coworker is rushing to pack up her desk to scoop up her kids from school this is pretty much a bad time for anything. Be as respectful as feasible to your teams’ schedules.
Our brain can process best when it is well rested, well fed and well hydrated. Therefore, I recommend feedback in the first part of the day or after lunch. Pick a day each month that your team is not stressed with deadlines. You want people to be focused and at ease for the best feedback sessions.
I hope these feedback tips get you started in your path to building a frequent feedback culture.