“We all need people who will give us feedback.
That’s how we improve.” - Bill Gates
Feedback is an under-utilized and under-rated business communications tool. Research shows people don’t like giving it and they really don’t like receiving it (mostly because it isn’t given effectively). This is unfortunate, as feedback, and specifically fast feedback, can be a driver of tremendous growth at your company - both in terms of your people and your product or service.
Facebook is a great example of a company that, even at scale, has created a fast feedback culture. They attribute this to both how quickly they are able innovate and iterate their products, but also to the constant development of their people.
By encouraging fast (and frequent) feedback — you’re encouraging a culture of guidance and learning. You are creating an environment where employees are challenged to grow and stretch - which ultimately has a positive impact on how they think about, and contribute to, your product or service.
A workplace in which people are comfortable giving each other feedback is a workplace built upon trust. It is a workplace where employees - from top to bottom - are challenging one another to take themselves and the business to new heights.
The ultimate goal is to develop a culture of “feedback seekers.” Feedback-seeking behavior has been linked to higher job satisfaction, creativity on the job, faster adaptation in a new role or organization, and lower turnover.
It All Starts At The Top
As the Founder, of course, it all starts with you.
Get comfortable sharing your mistakes and discussing your learning initiatives.
Create a feedback-seeking culture by frequently asking employees for feedback and candid recommendations - both one-on-one and in your “all-hands” meeting.
Sometimes it helps to have a go-to question, such as: “Are there things I can do that would make it easier to work with me?”
Or try asking: "What can I do more of? What can I do less of? What can I do better? What can I do differently?" You can frame this in terms of the company as well. Google’s version of this is called “Start, Stop, Continue.”
It may also help to create a way for employees to offer you feedback anonymously too.
Of course, asking for feedback is just one part of the equation, you must also be excellent at giving it. As must all your managers.
One of the most effective feedback forums is the one-on-one meeting. A well-run one-on-one serves as the backbone of employee learning and development. Unfortunately, all too often in fast-moving startups, these meetings are not consistent or optimized. Make it a priority to train your managers on how to give feedback and how to run effective one-on-ones.
Millennials Want and Need Frequent Feedback
If your startup is comprised of mostly millennials, know that they desire fast and frequent feedback at work.
In fact, according to Gallup, millennials require more feedback than other generations do. They grew up in the digital age and are accustomed to instant access to information - and pretty much everything else. In addition, for better or worse, many had helicopter parents and were given trophies for participation. Yet despite their need for feedback and recognition, only 19% of millennials say they actually receive routine feedback.
With so many companies complaining how hard it is to engage and keep millenials, seems like building a fast feedback culture might be a good start.
For more great information on how to give feedback and build it into company culture, check out “Thanks for the Feedback” and “Radical Candor” - both available at the FounderForward Bookshelf.