Everybody knows that organizations need great leaders from top to bottom to succeed. But what not everybody knows is that the great leaders their organization needs aren’t born—they are made.
Management is a skill, and like any skill, it can be honed. There are plenty of ways people can learn to become effective managers and leaders in their workplace, and at their heart, all of them demand one thing above all—the ability to learn and grow. The key to ensuring your workplace’s supervisors can hone their management and leadership skills is to create a culture that encourages both the giving and receiving of constructive management feedback.
Why a Culture of Constructive Feedback Matters
From mid-level supervisors all the way up to the C-suite, a culture that doesn’t encourage constructive feedback is a culture that can’t effectively execute your organization’s mission.
Let’s look at the importance of giving and receiving feedback for your management team by finding out what happens without it:
Your leaders will stagnate without constructive feedback.
Managers need constructive feedback to become better managers. It’s as simple as that. Without a culture that encourages managers to learn from what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong, managers can stagnate in their professional development and fail to grow their managerial skills.
Current managers aren’t the only ones who suffer from a lack of management feedback. Future managers do, too, as a culture that discourages or fails to adequately encourage constructive feedback can also struggle to identify and nurture potential leaders in your organization.
Your employees’ morale will suffer.
If employees have concerns about their managers and have no way to constructively express them, they are likely to become frustrated and unmotivated and could quit for greener pastures altogether. Likewise, if an employee has a good manager whom they see going unrecognized or unappreciated, they could also lose faith in the overall workplace culture’s ability to recognize and reward excellence.
Your organization’s culture will be resistant to change.
This one might sound obvious, but if you don’t have room for giving effective feedback in your organization, your culture will not be easy to change. In fact, it will get harder to change, as employees whose opinions are not valued often become less likely to embrace new ideas or adopt new processes.
A culture that discourages feedback stifles innovation. Managers need to have open avenues for feedback—and know how to accept constructive feedback gracefully—to identify areas where processes, strategies, and team dynamics can be improved.
Your organization’s reputation may suffer.
Without open and honest feedback, managers can struggle to understand the needs and concerns of their teams, leading to communication breakdowns and inefficient collaboration.
Ultimately, your workplace’s ability to encourage constructive feedback impacts its ability to execute projects and deliver products or services to your clients or customers on time, on budget, and to their satisfaction. If your culture doesn’t promote constructive feedback, it can show in your work, and it can damage your reputation in your market.
That’s in addition to your organization looking less attractive on the labour market—because job hunters care more about positive workplace environments now than ever before.
It Takes Two to Tango: How to Give and Receive Feedback Effectively
A workplace that can’t implement constructive feedback can quickly become toxic, but if you’ve been seeing red flags of a bad feedback culture in your organization, it’s not too late to change.
Now that we’ve taken a look at what the consequences of feedback-discouraging organizational culture can be and demonstrated the importance of giving and receiving feedback, let’s delve into how you can change your culture for better and more actionable management feedback.
Giving and Receiving Feedback Training
You know that your employees need to be able to give constructive feedback—but just as importantly, your managers need to know how to receive it. It takes two to tango, and managers need to know how to be open to receiving feedback effectively.
There’s a lot of ego on the line. Constructive criticism is essential for learning and growing—but it’s too easily confused with destructive criticism, which is about tearing people down. Being able to listen and take feedback to heart rests on disentangling ego and negative emotions from receiving feedback. It also depends on the person giving the feedback knowing how to present both the positives and negatives in the most helpful and constructive way.
Your HR team can organize workshops and training sessions focused on effective communication and feedback skills to help both employees and their managers give constructive feedback in a helpful and positive manner and receive it gracefully.
Tips for Giving Effective Feedback to Managers
Employees and organizational leaders can follow these tips to give constructive feedback for managers:
- Provide specific examples of behaviours or actions your feedback addresses, using objective language and focusing on observable and measurable behaviours.
- Avoid creating a defensive reaction by focusing on behaviour and actions, not personality judgments, and by framing your feedback to highlight the impact of their actions on outcomes or team dynamics.
- Use “I” statements to express your observations and feelings in order to avoid coming across as accusatory or placing blame.
- Balance positive and constructive feedback by recognizing positive aspects of a manager’s performance alongside areas for improvement. The “velvet hammer” method is often especially effective for making negative feedback a tool for positive improvement.
- Be actionable in your approach—present suggestions for improvement to managers and prompt them to think of their own ways to improve their performance, encouraging a two-way dialogue to lift your leader higher.
Tips for Giving Effective Feedback to Employees
Providing employee feedback is essential for fostering growth and keeping your teams harmonious. Managers can in turn follow these tips to provide better and more effective feedback for their direct reports:
- Offer feedback in a timely manner and make feedback—both positive and constructive—a regular part of your ongoing dialogue with your employees.
- Recognize and reinforce positive behaviors and achievements in addition to identifying room for improvement.
- Consider using the SBI model: Situation-Behavior-Impact. Describe the specific situation, the observed behavior, and the impact it had on making your feedback more objective, focused, and actionable.
- Encourage employees to share their perspectives and insights and open yourself to receiving feedback from them.
- Set clear expectations and goals for your employees and refer back to this framework in your feedback to make it clear how your employees’ actions align with or deviate from the established standards.
Implementing 360-Degree Feedback
Feedback for managers doesn’t have to just come from their direct reports. Your HR team can implement anonymous 360-degree feedback that provides constructive advice for managers from their superiors, peers, direct reports, and perhaps even external stakeholders.
Multi-source feedback can provide a more comprehensive view of a manager’s performance and encourage openness and transparency by demonstrating the value of having multiple viewpoints represented.
Recognizing and Rewarding Constructive Feedback
Your HR team can lead the way in highlighting and celebrating constructive feedback in your organization. From running employee recognition programs to shout-outs in team meetings to other forms of acknowledgment, you can publicly recognize and reward employees who take steps to create a culture of healthy and positive constructive feedback in your organization and encourage others to follow suit.
If you’re looking for a great solution to ensure your employees are recognized and rewarded for the good they do, we recommend our newest Value Hub Partner, RecogNation—an all-in-one, comprehensive program that helps you shake up your workplace culture and empower your team to uplift and support one another.
Build a Better Workplace with Gameplan HR™
Creating a culture of constructive feedback for managers and employees alike is an ongoing process that requires consistent effort and support from your organization’s leadership. HR can play a pivotal role in shaping and reinforcing these initiatives, but the entire organization must be committed from top to bottom to valuing constructive feedback as a tool for improvement and a force for good.
Gameplan HR™ is dedicated to providing your HR team with the solutions and resources you need to take charge and effect positive change that sets your people on the path to professional success and helps your organization further its mission. To discover what we can do to help you elevate your workplace, talk to a Gameplan advisor today!