How to Create a Feedback Culture in Your Startup
Success in the startup world always comes back to a company’s ability to innovate.
Companies that can’t keep up to the fast paced and ever changing consumer society will surely be left in the dust.
But what lies at the core of innovation may surprise you.
While it’s true creativity and disruptive thinking are essential to innovative practices, they can’t happen without one key component, feedback.
In the startup world ideas must constantly evolve and the best way to ensure your ideas move in the right direction is through feedback.
When feedback is incorporated into idea generation, ideas are put to the test and areas of improvement can be found.
In this way, feedback acts as the driving force of innovation which allows your ideas to be taken to new heights.
This is what makes feedback culture a vital element of Unicorn Startups.
Throughout this article I explain what feedback culture is, its importance, the benefits, and how you can apply it to your own start-up team.
What is Feedback in the Workplace?
Feedback culture is defined by its priority to create fair, honest, and transparent communication between all employees. It’s a workplace culture that is focused on cycling quality and productive feedback among employees at all levels of an organization.
Every employee is encouraged to share ideas and give feedback on projects no matter their position on the ‘workplace pecking order.’
That means even junior level employees should be able to go to their boss and explain what they saw and how they might change it. Although their feedback may not necessarily be implemented, the point is that their feedback is wanted, respected, and taken seriously.
The Importance of Feedback in the Workplace
The presence of feedback culture is important for both your organization and your employees.
Feedback culture is linked to employee trust, satisfaction, and engagement.
In this type of corporate culture managers use feedback as a tool to shape employee behaviour and development, which ultimately improves employee performance.
Feedback also instills a growth-mindset among your employees.
When employees work with a growth-mindset over a fixed-mindset they’re not afraid to challenge themselves.
A growth-mindset motivates employees to stretch their capabilities and push themselves to new limits which has a positive impact on how they think and contribute to your business.
A fixed-mindset on the other hand happens when individuals feel that their abilities can't be improved upon. This can be dangerous as it will prevent important skill development and growth which can sabotage employee development in the future.
A workplace where employees feel comfortable to give feedback to one another is also a great way to foster trust among your entire startup team.
When employees know that they can comfortably give feedback to one another they create a place of psychological safety which creates a sense of belonging among the entire team.
👉 To understand why psychological safety and belonging are the foundational pillars of every high performing team, check my blog An Undeniable Secret to Peak Team Performance.
In summary, feedback creates an opportunity for all employees to improve their skill sets and strive towards a collective company vision.
This is why businesses with feedback cultures show greater growth and innovation than their counterparts. Feedback not only develops employees but also develops the operations and products of the business.
By creating an unstoppable team through feedback culture startups are also able to create a powerful business with a competitive edge.
The Benefits of Feedback in the Workplace
When done correctly, startups that establish a quality feedback culture often report a variety of benefits that create a more successful workplace. Below, I share the top three benefits you will reap when you install a feedback culture into your own startup.
1. Employees Feel Valued and Take Ownership
What motivates employees more than money? … Meaningful work.
More and more employees in the workforce today want jobs where they feel like they make a difference. The best way to do that is through company culture.
A feedback culture shows that the work of each employee matters to the operations of the company they work for. This allows them to feel like a valued member of the team.
When employees have a chance to give feedback to others, they gain more ownership of their work. Instead of feeling like mindless cogs in a machine, employees bring a new sense of pride and purpose to their work.
When employees are proud of the work they produce, they will be more productive and produce better quality work.
2. Attract and Retain Top Talent
A foundation of employees who feel valued and empowered act as a catalyst for future employee growth.
When you take the time to invest in your employees, others notice. It illustrates you’re a company that cares about the lives of their employees, which is a company everyone wants to work for.
When you take the time to invest in your employees, others notice.
When you establish a feedback culture, you’ll also have a positive affect on your employee retention rate. By giving regular feedback, you’re helping your employees create a sense of connection to their positions in your company which will mean they will choose to stay over leaving.
Statistics also show employees who don’t feel they can provide feedback to other members of their team are 16% more likely to job surf and those who don’t feel valued or recognized are 2x more likely to be found job hunting (tinypulse, 2019).
By creating a feedback culture, you prove your company not only does important work, but you value and appreciate the people who work there which is a top priority in today’s workplace.
3. Creates a Collaborative Work Environment
The final and possibly most beneficial advantage you will find from establishing a feedback culture is overall improved communication amongst team members.
When an open dialogue from the bottom up is created, each project feels more collaborative which encourages employees to share their honest feedback with each other. This results in more productive meetings and clearer team objectives.
Open feedback also allows employees to feel like they can rely on each other, which creates greater cohesion throughout the entire team.
Creating a Feedback Culture
Now that you understand the need for feedback I’m going to provide you with three easy steps that you can use to start to implement a feedback culture into your startup today!
1. Asking ❓
The first step to establishing a culture of feedback is to make it a routine. The best way to normalize feedback is to ask for regular feedback.
This can be as simple as setting up a weekly poll asking employees to provide feedback on the company’s projects or to assess how their work week is going.
If you use Slack, you can create automated polls with Polly. Polls are a great way to make feedback a part of an employee's everyday workplace routine.
2. Listening 👂
Once you’ve established a regular feedback schedule, the next most important task is to ensure you respond to this feedback.
When you show your employees you listen to what they have to say, you prove you value and appreciate their input. This is an essential step if you want to continue to receive regular employee feedback.
The best way to create open dialogue between employee and manager feedback is to create a safe place for them to interact in. You can do this by asking employees how they want to receive feedback.
Create a worksheet for your employee to fill out with open-ended statements such as:
- When I receive constructive feedback my first instinct is …
- I respond best to feedback when it is delivered like this …
- My worst/best experience with feedback …
This creates an open and honest start for both employee and manager to work on.
3. Acting 🎬
The only way to sustain feedback practices is to continue to act on them everyday. This shows employees that you mean it and you’re in it for the long-haul.
Although not every suggestion given by employees must be implemented by the organization, most every suggestion should be recognized to show they were heard.
Validate your employees, show them that you’ve listened to what they have to say and that you will take their feedback into consideration.
Your employees are not expecting everything they say to show up in practice, but they want to understand that their input matters and will be taken seriously if brought up.
Ultimately, a feedback culture creates a group of “feedback seekers” who constantly want to grow and improve themselves so that not only they thrive, but their team thrives.
This feedback-seeking behaviour is linked to benefits of more responsible employees, attraction and retention of talent, and a collaborative workplace. The best way to implement feedback culture is through asking, listening and acting.