At Atfarm, we have a feedback driven work culture. That means that we follow common practices around leaving room for feedback like:
- Regular 1:1s between direct reports, but also skip-a-level 1:1s.
- Frequent employee surveys on topics like work happiness.
- Retros on work as well as process changes.
- The use of 360 degree feedback and the G.R.O.W. model.
Those practices can help build a “feedback driven culture”, but are no proof of it. Let me share examples that I run into regularly that showcase a feedback driven culture:
- Someone will approach me proactively after a meeting to let me know that the goal could have been clearer.
- A colleague will take 5min to take me aside to let me know that my tone could give off a bad impression in a situation earlier.
- A team-member asks for feedback on his/her work or behavior in the open, without being protective and invites others to give it.
- A feeling of humanity and humility at work: Everyone knows that they are considered as persons, and not just by work output.
- Everyone knows that working in the team not just about the “what”, but just as much about the “how”: Taking shortcuts to the “what” (e.g. by taking an ego-trip) will lead to vocalized feedback asking for a correction of the shown behavior. This prevents unhealthy tendencies from arising.
- There’s a sense of openness. If I’m not doing a good job and someone has a proposal how I could do better, I can trust that someone from the team will approach me. It’s not one sided, I’m expected to do the same.
- Continuous feedback is not about distributing blame and pointing out flaws, it’s a service to each other - we push ourselves forward: I know that my colleagues are invested in becoming better, and they are helping me to become better myself.
- Our feedback culture attracts people who value learning and personal growth as much as we do. People who don’t share the growth mindset would probably quickly leave us.
- Learning how to give and receive feedback will make you a better companion not only at home, but with family and friends as well.
- Sometimes when listening to feedback it can feel as if my colleagues want me to change who I am. Some feedback criticizes behaviors core to the own personality. Receiving such feedback is a big burden. It takes personal strength and self-awareness to say: “Thank you for this feedback, I see how it could improve my behavior in the cases you mentioned. Nevertheless I will not change my behavior on purpose, as this behavior is important to me.”
- Every team member has to learn to give and receive feedback well. This entails things like:
- thinking constructively about people around you
- phrasing feedback mindfully
- learning to be open minded to other’s perspective
- learning to say “no” to feedback you don’t agree with personally
- Not all feedback is good quality (e.g. without context), or delivered in the right form. Such feedback can be destructive for personal relationships.
- Giving and receiving feedback continuously takes time and emotional energy.
- At times, people grow tired of feedback. Then they need some free space, a break. Otherwise they’ll grow wary, irritated, and fend of feedback.
- It can feel as if too much focus is put inwards on bettering individuals rather than at the bigger goal of the team itself.
- It’s hard to measure the impact of the feedback, e.g. whether someone successfully improved in soft skills, and how this improvement impacted the team. Skeptics like the co-founder of my former company would claim that 80% of team-member’s skills are either existing or not, and that only 20% can be worked on.