Building a Culture of Feedback

There have been many great articles written about feedback. They cover how to give it, when to give it, what to call it. I’ve seen feedback referred to as guidance, reflection, coaching, or yelling. We talk about the consequences of not giving it. There’s giving it upward, downward, backward and sideways. One area where I don’t see a ton of coverage, though, is about the importance of asking for and receiving feedback. In order to give, you must be willing to receive. 

I have heard from many people that they dislike getting feedback. These same people have no problem giving me feedback on a regular basis. Yes, it is very tough to hear some constructive feedback. Nobody wants to hear where they are falling short. But to build trust and credibility with your team, you must show that you, too, are willing to be open to feedback. Asking someone to give you feedback on an area you’re trying to improve seems risky. Being vulnerable and opening up is hard, but great leaders do this well. They show their teams that it’s ok to fall short. It’s ok to be less than perfect. Asking for feedback models the types of behaviors you want to achieve in building a culture of feedback.

There are several things that must be in place to ask for feedback. First, and foremost, this cannot be done disingenuously. If you are trying to build a culture for others to learn and grow, you must be willing to learn and grow. If the person does not trust or respect you, the feedback will not be heard nor delivered with good intent.  

Secondly, you need to give the person you are asking to provide feedback time to give it to you. Let them know that you are setting specific time aside to discuss the feedback. For example, if you ask someone to observe your presentation and to give you feedback on your pacing back and forth, allow time, directly after the meeting, for them to give you feedback. 

Lastly, you need to acknowledge the feedback and thank the person. By showing gratitude and acknowledging the feedback, you are creating a space for feedback to regularly occur. You are thanking the person for going out of their way to help you, and showing that the feedback is welcomed. 

Building a culture of feedback takes time. This is not a program or a “flavor of the month” project. Leaders must lead by example and model the types of behaviors they want to see. You need to regularly ask for and positively acknowledge feedback. In order to build a culture of feedback in your organization, as leaders, you must first build an environment of trust by regularly asking for feedback.


Originally posted on John Hudson’s Blog.



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