Feedback has become a must in the modern organization. Companies can achieve great results if they apply this tool correctly and with good motives.

What is feedback?

Feedback is a review, a message to a person about which of his actions lead to a result and which do not. Also, this is a review of human behavior and the impact it has. Using feedback, we can reinforce human behavior effective for the organization and neutralize the behavior that does not fit our team or organization.

Methods of feedbakc usage

  1. Feedback can help to make the company self-regulating. In such a company, not only the manager solely is responsible for the team building and rallying. These processes become the distributed responsibility of the team itself. This enriches the team and allows it to work out those issues that the manager may not notice or for which he did not have enough time and energy.

  2. The second method of using feedback is the formation of a self-learning organization. People share advice with each other on how to improve skills and personal characteristics, and the overall level of the company grows without formal intervention from the HR department or management.

  3. Feedback can be regarded as a component of engagement. All people care about objective feedback. And if a company succeeded to build a culture where people feel free enough to give and receive feedback, then people feel more cared for and involved in the business.

  4. Finally, the ability to use feedback is a criterion by which a mature leader can be identified. If an employee realizes that there are blind spots in his activities that are invisible to him, but are visible to others, and he asks for feedback from colleagues himself - pay attention to him, he will become a good leader.

What prevents the introduction of feedback in the company?

Despite the obvious benefits, for most employees, the words "Let me give you feedback" result into stress, not happy anticipation. Why?

There are two types of behavior that block the development of a feedback culture. Both can be found in Russia and in other countries.

  • The first type is harsh criticism, which the respondent passes off as straightforwardness: "Why are you offended? It's feedback!"

  • The second type is such a reverent attitude towards harmony in a team that even the most delicate criticism seems inappropriate to people. They overwhelm colleagues with praise and at the same time deprive them of opportunities to develop.

Both extremes are witnessed at the initial stage of introducing feedback and are not a final judgement by their nature. It is important not to "get stuck" at this stage and clearly realize that neither the culture of straightforward emotional criticism nor the culture of "stroking" will have any effect.

How to learn and teach how to give feedback?

Assess what guides people when they are giving feedback. Do they really want to help a colleague? Or is it an attempt os self-assertion through criticism and belittling of the other: I am ok and have the right to give you feedback, but you are "not okay"?

In addition, feedback is often given under influence of emotions, but the person is afraid to show them openly and tries to look neutral. Of course, the suppressed emotions are still easy-recognizable in tone and reasoning. The feedback recipient feels the dissonance and faces the question "Do you want to 'pour out' your emotions or really help me to develop?"

The wrong motive stultifies the value of the exercise. If you see someone being too aggressive in feedback, it's worth talking to that person and explaining that feedback is about helping a colleague, not "letting off steam". It is best to cool down and talk calmly with a colleague whose behavior was upsetting or uncomfortable. Offer to mediate this conversation.

Ask the managers why they want to give feedback. Is it really necessary in this situation?

A manager who hurries to assess the situation denies the employee the right to self­reflection. Many people understand that they behaved wrong, but they do not have time to comprehend what happened and draw conclusions for themselves. And the feedback giver simply does not bother to push them to self-reflection.

The people working next to you are smart! Give them an opportunity to demonstrate this.

Ask the right questions and you will be surprised how a person can identify painful points on their own. Let your help be about putting the right accents.

If necessary, remind managers that feedback differs from criticism also by the fact that it gives the person freedom to choose whether or not to accept your suggestion. Leave the final decision to the person. This is an important element of psychological safety when employees feel that there will be no unpleasant consequences either for the feedback they gave or the one they received.

Similarly to so many other endeavors, the result comes with practice. The most correct thing a leader can do is to constantly ask for feedback and become a role model for others. By talking to subordinates, combining corrective feedback with praise, and being open and consistent, you will make employees understand that feedback does not need to be feared and will become part of everyday life. Remind managers that changes start with them.

And to make the process quick and easy, it is important to choose the right tool. For example, such as the system. Every week an employee receives a survey, where he can give feedback to a colleague, and it will be fully confidential. The system automatically aggregates responses from many people, identifying common responses about strengths and weaknesses. The respondents' anonymity ensures the honesty of the answers.

Employees see their skills, competencies, and informal leadership styles. They can use the recommendations of the surrounding people for their development. Let the team know that you are ready to help them to draw up a development plan and that you are always open if they want to discuss feedback.