Giving Effective Feedback

Feedback is a necessary component to doing business successfully, particularly when working globally. Studies have shown that employee engagement soars when a culture of feedback exists in their company. It has also been proven that employees are more satisfied at work when they receive regular feedback. It is one of the number one issues that come up in employee surveys (in an of itself a feedback tool), and when asked about their opinions, individuals regularly ask the question whether their feedback will be integrated into actions taken by the organization.

Companies have unique, and not so unique, methods of responding, delivering accolades and offering criticism.

Accolades are also relatively unproblematic, everyone appreciates them if they are sincere and well-meant. However there are cultures that feel too much praise is a nuisance, they assume there must be an exaggeration, or wonder if the source trustworthy if real content or action cannot is not referenced. But for the most part, people can live with praise in its various forms.

Where most organizations could use assistance in delivering feedback is in the area of criticism, or as it is sometimes more diplomatically called, “constructive feedback”. Thus, this article provides five steps your global, cross cultural, and diverse organization can use to create a culture of feedback – a culture in which you learn to give and receive constructive criticism and translate it into success, efficiency and productivity.

3 Steps to Creating a Culture of Feedback

1. Define Team Culture

More often than not, teams rely on inexplicit cues to orient members to the desired behavior. Additionally, the team lead or project manager usually sets the standard for such cues. It is critical to become conscious of expectations and then to define the team culture. Once the existing culture of your organization, team or group is defined, it is only then possible to develop a plan of action for creating a culture of feedback.

In order to define your organization’s culture, ask the following questions of team members:

What are the keywords that best describe your team?
How do people express pleasure or displeasure?
What is the meeting culture?
What are the preferred communication tools (email, IM, etc)?
How are individuals oriented towards time, space, or relationship to co-workers?

2. Agree on a Style

From a young age, people learn a culturally “appropriate” way to express their opinions, agreement or disagreement, as well as a willingness to respond to a request or required deliverable.

Direct cultures will use the word “No” when they disagree or haven’t been convinced yet. By contrast, indirect cultures will use the phrase, “Yes, and…” to share another opinion or idea if they don’t agree or are not yet convinced. For example, “That’s a good idea, however, we might want to look at other options, too.”

Direct cultures find the perceived vagueness of indirect cultures frustrating, and by contrast, indirect cultures can become easily offended by a direct approach. It is nearly impossible for emotions not to rise. However, it is possible for your team to agree on a style of message delivery that suits everyone.

3. Optimize Communication Tools

Communication tools and the way they are used are taken for granted. Everyone knows how to write emails, host a video conference, or send an instant message (IM). Most teams use all forms of communication. However, there is quite a bit of virtual miscommunication and misunderstanding in global teamwork, particularly when negative topics are discussed or critical feedback is delivered.

Take time in your organization or group to talk about and decide explicitly how and when the team will use all available communication tools. Set guidelines, rules, best practices, or standards for email, IM, phone, and video conference usage and stick to them. To do this, refer to the team culture, what your standards are in communication generally, and particularly how feedback is given and received.

To create a culture of feedback, discuss and set standards, hold people accountable, and review results. In time, your organization will operate seamlessly and team members will exhibit a strong sense of trust in the team lead and members.

Contact Melissa to host a workshop on how to deliver effective feedback to peers, customers, and other business partners.

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