Over the past few weeks we’ve been focused on what makes a great company culture, but how can you actually improve your own?
Getting the right feedback processes in place is the perfect starting point, but how you ask for feedback and what you do with it is just as important as asking at all.
Remember, culture is not a one size fit all. It’s something that must be nurtured and guided overtime. To help achieve this, you and your leaders need rich and transparent feedback – feedback that is both short and responded to, building trust and improving team alignment long-term.
But how exactly can you achieve this? Let’s explore what you need to know about improving your company culture through feedback.
Open communication, transparency and giving your people a voice – all sound like ingredients to a healthy workplace culture, right? The first step to establishing these things is implementing a continuous feedback process through regular check-ins.
But not all continuous feedback processes are created equal. Let’s take a look under the hood of how a best practice system might look, and how this can be leveraged to improve culture.
The feedback you receive is only as good as the questions you ask! What’s more, the way you ask questions on check-ins can show how much you value your staff and what the organisation’s priorities are. Here are four questions we recommend starting with to build a culture of open communication.
Any potential problems that might be impacting morale at work so you can act on them. Over time, managers can also explore month-month trends, and explore opportunities for improvements where there are variations.
This gives people an opportunity to leave more detailed feedback about how they feel they are growing at work and may reveal if people are feeling behind or wanting more out of their role. This is also an opportunity to uncover roadblocks that may be inhibiting staff from reaching their goals. This is an important piece in the culture puzzle, as it sends a message that it’s okay for people to be honest and say something if they aren’t satisfied. After all, it’s inevitable that at some point, some staff will feel unsatisfied with how they’re progressing, what matters is that you’re able to know about it. By taking this feedback and responding to it, you can build transparency and trust.
This provides staff with an opportunity to mention something they’re proud of accomplishing at work, and could help managers pick up on cause for recognition that may otherwise go unnoticed. This is so valuable in helping to ensure your best quiet achievers aren’t left feeling unappreciated, and helps your team keep track of their performance overtime. By reporting on these achievements regularly, we are also able to instantly remove recency bias from annual performance reviews.
This is one of the most critical questions of all to be asking in regular check-ins as it normalises asking for help. Even the best team members will go through periods where they may feel like something is holding them back. If they feel comfortable sharing this, it gives us an opportunity to act and get them back on track before it’s too late. Everybody wins.
Internally, this is the first question we always ask on every check-in. This shows employees that this is a top priority for their leadership team. It also provides the opportunity for people to speak up about a
By using these online check-ins to inform monthly one-on-ones, managers can demonstrate to each of their direct reports that their feedback is being taken on board and someone is listening.
Importantly, one-on-ones are a time for every direct report in a team to have a private chat with their manager and talk openly about anything that is blocking them or give feedback about what they are enjoying. This is particularly beneficial for large or dispersed teams where alone time with a manager is normally rare. The face to face element builds trust and transparency, key elements of a great culture, while also improving alignment and assisting in ownership and performance.
You can also create a culture of continuous improvement and proactive support (not reactive performance management) by replacing formal performance reviews with regular check ins.
We know that formal performance reviews can cause a lot of undue stress, and often fails to impact performance positively and effectively (more on that here).
The good news is, when you’re running regular check-ins, you can negate the need for formal reviews. The online component gathers key data required, while face to face catch-ups provide the opportunity to discuss this and devise solutions. The difference is, these improvements can now be made proactively as opposed to 12 months later.
Integrity in leaders is another key component to building a great culture. To establish this integrity, we can’t simply collect feedback – we also need to act on it.
It may sound obvious, but failing to do this step promptly and visibly will undermine your feedback efforts. If staff feel their voices are not being heard and their input is not being taken into account, the feedback process will lose its weight and people will stop participating or put less effort into their responses.
It’s important to note here that this doesn’t mean saying yes to everything that is suggested. That would not end well for anyone, and obviously not every suggestion someone puts forward may be worthwhile actioning. What is vital, however, is that you listen to the underlying problems your team want to solve so you can then offer up solutions that benefit everyone in the business.
In this way, you can show that you’re listening, and demonstrate the benefits of providing feedback, encouraging everyone to continue taking part.
The good news is, listening to and acting on feedback doesn’t have to mean trawling through hundreds or thousands of survey responses. When check-ins are performed through intelliHR, all this data comes together in a series of visual dashboards, allowing you to spot trends and pinpoint opportunities at a glance. We believe there is a great opportunity to understand culture through the use of aggregated team analytics, helping you and your leaders to get an overall sense of how the team is feeling and responding to your culture.
We hope these tips have inspired you to refine (or kickstart) your feedback process. If you need to get a system in place to make this happen, chat to the team about how intelliHR could support you.