How to Build a Culture That Embraces Feedback
Many years ago, when I was a new manager, I received a shocking review. It wasn't positive. My team told me (via my boss) that I was a micromanager.
I walked away disappointed. If I had known about this problem, I could have fixed it. Instead, I (and my team) lost months of time that we could have spent improving our relationships and our business.
I decided then and there that feedback would be part of my daily routine. I was not going to wait for my boss; I was going to gather the feedback myself. Because feedback, negative and positive, is crucial to the success of any organization.
Here are some of the tips I've been using over the last decade to gather more feedback and to build a culture of feedback within my teams.
1. Ask. I tell my teams we don't need to wait for performance reviews to get better right now. I end every meeting and most conversations with requests for feedback either in the meeting or via email. I had to do this for months before people started sharing.
2. Don't punish. Especially as a manager, I've found my teams are more cautious in sharing feedback with me. I know this personally. At a past company, I shared a piece of feedback with my manager . . . who immediately told me why I was wrong. That was the last piece of feedback I shared. That's a loss for the manager and the company.
3. Show the impact. I emphasize when feedback makes an impact. Last year, we made changes to our org structure. When I explained the changes to the team, I started out by saying "every one of these changes was driven by your feedback". The team realized I was doing more than listening, I was acting on their feedback. After this meeting, feedback increased dramatically.
4. Make it easy. Since subordinates, especially new ones, are often fearful of sharing feedback, I will start the sentence for them. "Hi. I'd love your feedback about our 1-on-1 meeting. I'm worried that I talked too much and didn't let you explain your point." Then I wait.
5. Create safe places. I used to hold office hours where people on the team could drop by and share feedback. After a few months, I realized I was hearing from the same few people. I appreciated their feedback, but I wanted more. So I started inviting groups of 4-5 people to lunch or quick chats. This reduced the barriers for people who wouldn't otherwise share. And once they saw me respond positively to a few comments, they would inevitably share more feedback by the end of the meeting.
What are you doing to hear feedback from your teams?
DAN LEVY | Columnist | Director, Facebook Global Small Business Team
Dan leads the Global Small Business team at Facebook. He is responsible for sales, account management, and service for the millions of small businesses who use Facebook to connect with their customers and grow their businesses. Dan founded and ran his own small business - Justarrive, a ticketing and marketing service for professional and college sports organizations. He graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Industrial Engineering and currently lives in Palo Alto with his wife and three children.