This might change your mind about employee feedback tools

Mark Lewis
March 26, 2024
min read
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Traditional approach to feedback

In an effort to build a feedback culture, many organizations take the approach of giving employees access to feedback tools. Even with multiple options to give or request, to share anonymously or transparently... Employees mostly, don’t engage with feedback tools.

Even with training on common frameworks. Like SBI, IDEA and ABC... Employees mostly still, don’t give or request feedback.

The insight

The thing we all KNOW about  feedback is this. It’s helpful for:

  • Self-awareness
  • Skill development
  • Career progression
  • Performance

Which we all want.

But it’s not really about what we know. It’s about how we FEEL and with feedback we typically feel, well, uncomfortable. A tool on it's own doesn’t make giving or receiving feedback feel better. A tool only provides the option to give or request feedback.

How might we help employees feel better about feedback?

First, let’s understand WHY it feels uncomfortable.

“I worry about how it will be received."
“There’s never a good time.”
“I’m unsure what words to use.”
“I might be perceived as critical.”
“I’m not a confrontational person.”

Let’s switch our mindset, from providing tools & training, to orchestrating an experience. An experience that guides:

  1. A good time to share feedback
  2. A safe topic to provide feedback on

Let me expand on this...

1. A good time to share feedback

Most employees are unlikely to initiate feedback, so we need a trigger. But not just a generic reminder because reminders to simply ‘Give feedback’ typically generate a reaction of:

“I don’t have anything to share right now.”

A trigger needs to be relevant and expected. Like the completion of a project, campaign, or a whole-of-team feedback date. So it becomes a cultural thing:

“Ah yes, we always request feedback after a project. It’s what we do around here.”

2. A safe topic to provide feedback on

Let’s face it, most people find it challenging to choose a topic for feedback. It’s much easier when feedback is  anchored to predefined expectations. This is both, for the recipient and the giver.

What do predefined expectations look like? You need to identify what drives performance in your organization.

It might be:

  • Values
  • Behaviours
  • Skills
  • A combination

Then, define those expectations with employees.

A few words of caution... KEEP. IT. SIMPLE. When you think it is too simple, it is probably about right.

Let’s look at an example

This blog post...We might define the expectations for content in 2024 as:

  • Useful
  • Easy to digest
  • Engaging
  • Shareable
  • Insightful
  • Relevant

How could this content be improved? Pick an option and suggest an improvement!

It works in practice too!

See an interview with a company doing this process exceptionally well. Not only have they scaled it across nearly 1000 employees, they have been rated Australia’s No.1 Place to Work, multiple times!

A culture of feedback in professional services.

Bringing it all together.

Consider the whole experience, the steps involved and things that can go wrong like non-completions.

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