A culture that encourages and accepts feedback should be a top priority for any organization. Feedback should never be limited to during performance reviews or only when an employee requires some constructive criticism. In fact, treating feedback as a negative experience or limiting the amount employees ask for or receive feedback can be extremely detrimental to company culture.

The most productive, invested, and engaged organizations strive to make feedback continuous. They implement it into company culture, turning it into an expected, useful, and positive experience for their workforce. But fostering a culture of continuous feedback within your company can be much easier said than done. If you don’t already have a culture that encourages feedback, start now. A culture that is heavily focused on feedback is one where employees will feel comfortable, engaged, cared for, and productive.

Continuous Feedback

What is a Continuous Feedback Culture?

The first important thing to note is that feedback is a two-way process. It involves the engagement of both leaders and employees. Employees should feel comfortable voicing concerns and suggestions in a safe space, while employers should be able to express feedback in an actionable and constructive manner.

When feedback is considered the norm rather than as a warning sign, then you can successfully say that you are fostering a culture of continuous feedback. This is ideal since when improvements are needed, asking for changes won’t be seen as an unusual request or awkward situation. Rather, you’ll be able to streamline business processes and empower employees to perform their jobs better without worrying about the actual feedback process itself. It takes the pressure out of feedback, letting the focus be more on what you are actually asking of your employees and allowing room for them to work on the feedback they are given.

Here are some ways you can implement a culture of continuous feedback within your organization:

Create a Feedback Framework From Day One

Developing continuous feedback culture starts at the very beginning with your new hires. It’s best to build healthy habits and introduce a continuous feedback process during a new employee’s first six months. Since so many companies struggle with feedback culture, there’s always a good chance new employees will have a bad taste in their mouths about giving and receiving feedback. Therefore, your new hire has to let go of any bad feedback habits they may have acquired. Employees need to know right from the start that feedback isn’t something to be feared or irritated by. It’s simply part of company culture and another aspect of their day-to-day job.

It’s important that you prepare your employees for feedback culture, as employees who may not be used to or enjoy feedback might be thrown off or intimidated by the process if they don’t know what to expect.

Ensure There Are Multiple Options for Sharing Feedback

Having multiple feedback channels available to your employees is vital to encouraging a feedback culture. You can facilitate feedback in your organization through a variety of channels, such as:

Consider encouraging your management team and leaders to hold virtual meetings to ask for and receive feedback. You’ll likely find that announcements about company goals and updates flow well when accompanied by an invitation for feedback.
Newsletter surveys provide an easy way for employees to provide feedback. Feedback can be provided quickly, increasing the likelihood that employees will actually share their true feelings and opinions. Anonymous comments should also be welcomed by employees. Anonymity is a good way to receive honest feedback.

Make use of technology when asking for feedback. Technology tools can make giving and receiving feedback quick, easy, and straightforward. It’s also a less intimidating option for employees who might find in-person feedback very stressful. Besides providing metrics to support your feedback, performance-management platforms also include an integrated survey system to make the feedback process more efficient.
One-on-ones are great when it comes to providing specific context-specific feedback or providing feedback related to personal matters. Just make sure you implement one-on-ones regularly and with sincerity.

Encourage Leaders to Set a Feedback Standard

Because feedback is a two-way street, your leaders need to be invested and involved in the process. A feedback culture can only be built if your leadership is willing and able to go the distance to make it happen. Leaders who only use feedback as a means of criticizing or correcting employees are detrimental to culture. It’s critical that leaders solicit feedback as much as they give it, and create a positive culture surrounding feedback in general.

Use Employee Recognition to Support Continuous Feedback

The foundation of a great feedback culture is recognizing your employees. Remember, employee recognition doesn’t always have to be grandiose. You can keep it simple. Implement recognition techniques such as sending your employees a congratulatory email when they make a sale or reach a milestone.

Recognizing employees for their successes is as much a part of feedback culture as providing constructive feedback. It helps to build trust and authenticity within your workforce, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like their hard work and efforts being recognized? Recognition creates the foundation for a culture of feedback.

It’s also important to be specific when highlighting the skills, achievements, or outcomes that your employees work so hard for. Team members can better utilize their strengths for the future when they know what strengths they have been recognized for.

Fostering a culture of continuous feedback within your organization can work wonders for your employees and leaders. Feedback should be given regularly, in a positive manner, and should be an integrated and expected part of your employees’ day-to-day life.  Even though it may take time to build a culture of continuous feedback, it will be worth it in the long run, so start implementing the right steps and tools today.