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Why feedback culture is important – and how to make it work for your business

Creating a feedback culture within your organisation can have a vastly positive impact on your employees and overall output. But why is feedback so important? And how can you bring that culture into your business? Here, we’ll answer those questions.

Why is feedback culture so important?

There are plenty of reasons, but we’ve boiled it down to four. The right amount of constructive feedback within your organisation can make you work faster, develop your workforce, improve the quality of output, and even reduce friction. Here’s how:

1. It increases speed and efficiency

An effective feedback culture helps you and your teams work more quickly. An organisation in which people can offer and receive feedback more readily will move and deliver things faster. It’s simple but, all else being equal, the fastest company always wins.

2. It aids development and growth

Growth and development is important to all of us - even CEOs  – and feedback is vital for people to improve both professionally and personally.

Feedback provides an opportunity for your team to become more self aware. Just because a member of a team is consistently committing the same mistake doesn’t mean they’re necessarily aware of it. Feedback allows their colleagues and superiors to provide them with an awareness of where they could improve.

All this feeds into retention. Progression and growth is key to retaining employees at your organisation and attracting new ones, and if people feel as though they’re learning and developing, they’re more likely to stay where they are.

3. It improves quality of output

If people don’t feel comfortable telling their colleagues when something isn’t good enough, then your output won’t get any better. But if you build an environment where people are comfortable offering constructive feedback and to be critiqued themselves, then their work will improve. A feedback culture not only allows people to grow, it also makes the work they’re doing even better.

4. It reduces friction

Feedback can help dissolve workplace tension. If people are comfortable with constructive criticism, they can also air their frustrations openly to one another in an appropriate forum, rather than venting their annoyances underhandedly or behind each other’s backs. Your team being open and transparent with how they’re feeling can help temper office politics or unhealthy rivalries.

So, how do I make it happen?

This is the tricky part. It’s all well and good talking up the benefits of feedback, but how do you bring it into your organisation. Well, it’s about having the right tools and frameworks in place to make sure it’s the right fit for your business. Below, we’ll talk about the framework we use at CharlieHR - and why it works.

How to give feedback constructively

You have two choices as a business: you either focus on giving feedback, or you put the onus on asking for feedback. Every business is different, but at CharlieHR, we chose to concentrate on asking for feedback.

When you’ve made your choice, you then need a framework in place that ensures you’re being the most constructive in how you give or receive feedback. Saying “I think that’s rubbish” isn’t constructive because it’s emotional, somewhat subjective and wholly unhelpful to the individual receiving it. At Charlie, we use SBI (Subjective Behaviour Impact) as a framework to make sure feedback is delivered in a considered and helpful way. Here’s how it works:

What is SBI?

SBI outlines an straightforward structure you can use to give feedback in three stages.  

Situation: First of all, you want to define the when and where of the situation you’re referring to, which puts the specific piece of feedback into context for others involved. For example:

Hey John, do you remember that meeting we had last week?

Behaviour: The next step is to describe the specific behaviours you’d like to address. Remember, we’re working with a framework that requires asking for feedback here. This is challenging, but it pushes you to ask for feedback while being self-reflective. To build on top of the earlier example:

Hey John, do you remember that meeting we had last week? I think I demonstrated the behaviour of dominating the conversation too much.

Impact: The final step is to ask the person the impact that your actions had. You can guide the feedback with a question if you think it would be more helpful. For example:

Hey John, do you remember that meeting we had last week? I think I demonstrated the behaviour of dominating the conversation too much, which may have had an impact of making you withdraw from it. Is that true

What are the benefits of SBI feedback?

There are lots of them, but here are a few things to take from the example above:

  1. The utility of feedback is higher: You’re asking for specifics, which means the feedback is very focused, giving you something to act upon.
  2. It removes emotion: Instead, the conversation becomes more about the impact of your behaviour, not about one person vs the other.
  3. It’s more comfortable: The person providing the feedback will feel more at ease because you’ve given them a framework to work from and asked them specifically what impact your actions had.

A feedback culture is invaluable for maintaining your employees’ satisfaction and improving your overall output as an organisation. Hopefully, you now know how to bring it into your business and how helpful it can be if implemented correctly.

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