Written By Chad Kearns

Published on June 22, 2023

A healthy and consistent feedback loop is a critical piece of organizational culture that many leaders struggle to harness. 

And before we get too far into this topic, I want to clarify one thing about feedback: it shouldn’t be looked at solely as a personal performance critique. Yes, giving and asking for feedback about personal and personnel performance is important, but there are so many different topic areas that leaders should be asking for feedback on, unrelated to the individual performance of people in their organization. Seeking feedback on operations, product/service offerings, benefits, organizational purpose, and systems are just a few of the areas leaders should be soliciting organizational feedback on.

Have you considered if your organization has a culture of feedback? A culture where ideas, concerns, and fair critique flows from the top down and the bottom up.

The outcomes of a culture of feedback are significant.  

Ready to build a culture of feedback in your organization? Start here:

Consistently Ask for Feedback 

Consistency is the key here. Culture isn’t built on one-and-done efforts. It requires repetition. Get consistent in asking for feedback.

Not that hard, right?

Unfortunately, leaders don’t ask for feedback as often as they should. Many team members won’t surface issues, ideas, or points for improvements unless prompted. 

At a minimum, organizational leaders should proactively ask for feedback from their team members every other month. At. The. Minimum. (Again, this isn’t just about feedback on the performance of individuals)

So where to start when looking to build a culture of feedback? Ask for feedback. Often. 

Use Different Methods and Mediums to Collect Feedback

Ok, ask for feedback on the regular. How?

Offer a variety of methods and mediums to collect feedback. Not everyone is going to be comfortable having a direct, one-on-one conversion, especially with senior leaders. 

Variety offers individuals the ability to pick and choose a medium that makes them feel comfortable to surface their ideas or concerns. As a leader, deprioritize how the feedback is getting to you. What’s important is that it is surfaced. 

Here are a few ways to offer different mediums to surface feedback:

  • Focus groups (should not be about individual personnel)
  • 1:1 meetings
  • Annual Culture Assessments
  • Team discussions (should not be about individual personnel)
  • Quarterly surveys
  • Anonymous feedback channels
  • 360 performance reviews

Pick and choose what makes sense for your people and organization. Find ways to consistently offer variety.

Providing a variety of ways to surface feedback will spur more of it as folks discover what works best for them. 

Acknowledge the Feedback Received

Whether you agree or disagree with what’s surfaced, are able to act on it or not, leaders must acknowledge the feedback received. 

Someone in your organization took the time to surface and share their thoughts. That means something. Thank them and acknowledge that you’ve received the feedback. Find different ways to acknowledge it, whether that be in one-on-one interactions or all-team meetings. 

Seek clarification as needed. Stay open-minded to what you’ve received and share that you’re considering what to do about what was surfaced. 

Drive Change (When Warranted)

Here’s where the rubber meets the road. 

The most important piece when building a culture of feedback in your organization? Leaders must find ways to follow through, drive change, and tie the effort back to the feedback they received. 

Your team members want to know that their voices, opinions, and ideas count. 

Does that mean every single piece of feedback surfaced should drive change? No. Some feedback comes with constraints that make it difficult to move on. Some feedback is flat-out wrong. It happens. 

But change needs to happen for the open flow of feedback to continue. 

After leaders ask for feedback. After leaders receive and acknowledge it. Implementing change is vital. When leaders struggle to enact change, morale and belief wane. Then, feedback slows or stops. Your team members won’t take the time to surface issues because they don’t believe anything will change. 

Your culture of feedback ends. 

Harness a Culture of Feedback to Drive your Organization Forward

Your team members want to know that they have a voice in the organization they work for. They want to know that their ideas are heard and that their concerns are taken into account. 

Building a culture of feedback is a great way to do that. 

As your culture of feedback grows, watch your team members latch on and buy in, driving the organization forward.