As employees and employers embark on another year Helene Vermaak, Director at corporate culture experts – The Human Edge, recommends that feedback must feature prominently within the company culture.  “By incorporating feedback into the DNA of the business, an organisation begins to transform a feedback-adverse environment into a more honest and open culture, which in turn will improve future performance.”

Vermaak says that in the past, feedback has been seen as being part of the dreaded annual performance review, but this thinking needs to change and regular feedback has to become the accepted norm within organisations.  Constant delivery of feedback allows for a quick turnaround of behaviour and allows individuals to learn from their mistakes timeously – while still promoting growth and development of new skills. “Furthermore, this positive environment can lead to high job satisfaction and employee engagement.”

For many employees, especially millennials, feedback is required so that they know that they are constantly moving forward in their careers.  “The risk of them not receiving this feedback is that they may feel that their growth is halted or stifled and they will then look to move on,” warns Vermaak.

Joseph Grenny, the co-author of Crucial Conversations and cofounder of VitalSmarts, the US affiliate of The Human Edge, was quoted in the Harvard Business Review as saying that getting an early handle on minor issues before they become big problems is key. The effectiveness of a team and organisation is affected by the lag time between when problems are identified and when problems are brought out into the open.

Grenny and Vermaak advise minimising this gap by:

Zeroing-in on the source of the silence

If people are clamming up or are silent it usually means that they are holding back.  Management needs to determine why, and encourage openness.  Implementing a code word that encourages people to be candid can inspire openness in group settings or one-on-one conversations.

Giving people options

Group discussions don’t work for everyone, so look for alternative environments where feedback can be shared. It is often in these “safe informal environments” that issues are raised.

Modelling candour

Cultivate a culture of candour, where your team sees you broaching those taboo subjects with your boss as well as peers.

Creating an ownership culture

Companies who have the best performing cultures promote feedback and encourage everyone in the organisation to participate.  best performing company cultures promote performance conversations and encourage all employees to provide regular feedback and hold accountability conversations.”  best performing company cultures promote performance conversations and encourage all employees to provide regular feedback and hold accountability conversations.”  best performing company cultures promote performance conversations and encourage all employees to provide regular feedback and hold accountability conversations.”  best performing company cultures promote performance conversations and encourage all employees to provide regular feedback and hold accountability conversations.”  best performing company cultures promote performance conversations and encourage all employees to provide regular feedback and hold accountability conversations.”  best performing company cultures promote performance conversations and encourage all employees to provide regular feedback and hold accountability conversations.”

Making it routine

By developing a habit of regularly asking for feedback the more comfortable everyone will become with sharing and receiving feedback.  Scheduling regular meetings with the purpose being that the team shares their issues around a project, followed by a discussion on how to deal with these challenges together.

Vermaak urges organisations to create a company culture that is devoid of employees trying to guess what their bosses think, but rather an environment where regular feedback is encouraged and requested.

Ends.