Feedback is a necessary component to doing business successfully, particularly when working across cultures. There are two kinds of feedback 1) general responsiveness and 2) accolades or criticism (the latter is the focus). Every culture has a unique way of delivering accolades and criticism. But I’d like to share the five steps to successfully creating a culture of feedback (or constructive criticism) in your global, cross cultural, organization. If you follow them, your team will excel in efficiency and productivity.
- Define Your Culture
Get clear about what your team culture stands for. What are your values, how do you work together, what do you aspire to? What part of your team culture is based on national culture or individual personalities?
- Agree on the Style of Message Delivery
Once your culture is defined, take the time to articulate how the team will operationalize the way they will communicate with each other (and external partners).
- Use a Systemic Method of Talking, Listening & Responding
Ask if you can give another person feedback before you just jump in. Then focus on the positive, avoid judgement, stick with the facts and neutralize any negative emotions. Once you’ve delivered your comments, allow the other to summarize and replay what they think they heard you say. This gives you a chance to clarify any misunderstandings.
- Optimize Tools for Communication
Take time to decide how the team will use all available communication tools. Set guidelines, rules, best practices, or standardizations on how and when to use email, IM, phone, and video conference. If you don’t, it will be chaos.
- Continuous Improvement
You’ll need to hold the group accountable if tools aren’t working or there is a breakdown in communication, otherwise initially agreed upon procedures won’t stick.