As I reflect on this article I wrote in 2019, a key aspect of a great culture that’s missing from the article is the flow of direct, actionable feedback across all levels.
This excerpt from “No Rules Rules” by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings perfectly encapsulates ways to share effective feedback.
Feedback must be given with positive intent. Giving feedback in order to get frustration off your chest, intentionally hurting the other person, or furthering your political agenda is not tolerated. Clearly explain how a specific behaviour change will help the individual or the company, not how it will help you. “The way you pick your teeth in meetings with external partners is irritating” is wrong feedback. Right feedback would be, “If you stop picking your teeth in external partner meetings, the partners are more likely to see you as professional, and we’re more likely to build a strong relationship.” – No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings
More often than not, upward feedback is where the challenge is. Upward feedback tends to be sugarcoated, vague and not actionable due to perceived repercussions of upsetting your manager. To fix that, leaders should actively seek direct feedback on areas they need to work on and publish the feedback to their entire team. This helps everyone in a team get comfortable with sharing effective feedback, knowing that it’s a key part of the culture.
Without enabling ways to share actionable, direct feedback, it is very hard to build a culture of excellence and continually improve as professionals and teams. Cultures that do feedback will end up with a huge competitive advantage.