How often do you give your team feedback? Be honest.

In fast-paced environments, giving feedback tends to fall by the wayside in favor of getting things done and shipped. As a result, most employees are left in the dark when it comes to their performance at work, and that can quickly lead to dissatisfaction.

Accolades and criticisms should not be shied away from. In fact, 82 percent of employees say bring it on, good or bad. Open and frank discussions are the hallmarks of successful, modern companies, as they're able to evolve on the fly and problem solve in a fraction of the time compared to their more tight-lipped competitors. If your organization is struggling to embrace a feedback culture, here are some keys to providing effective assessments.

There's no time like the present to share

Don't wait for quarterly reviews or arbitrary calendar dates to give feedback. Transparency builds trust, and making feedback part of your everyday environment demonstrates that you're a leader who recognizes individual contributions in real-time.

Every person in a leadership position within your organization should prioritize feedback, even if at times it's delivered in an "unofficial" manner. Timing matters. Acknowledgment is far more effective and more likely to lead to continued excellence when it's given shortly after an event or behavior.

One reason not to wait until your next review cycle, is that recognition has more power in public. Public acknowledgment of a job well done, even for things as small as making a good point in a meeting, raises everyone's game.

At our office, one of the most active channels on our company's internal communication platform is "Swagger," where managers are encouraged to give shout outs on a daily or weekly basis. Besides, what's more fun - closed-door meetings that try to recap six months of work, or an open celebration culture that spreads instant positivity?

Integrate your core values into your feedback

A company's core values form its bedrock. It's the foundation from which decision are made. As such, it's imperative your team is bought into these values and understands them thoroughly.

One way to do that is to tie all feedback to your core values. When constructive feedback, whether praise or corrective in nature, is underpinned by core values, it strengthens your company culture and aligns your team. Again, call out demonstrations of core values publicly so others begin to recognize the positive behaviors you are looking for.

Turn the feedback tables

Think of feedback as a loop, not a one-way street. Demonstrate your commitment to transparent leadership by inviting reviews of your own performance, in addition to encouraging employees to speak out about processes, teammates or assignments that are weighing heavily on their minds.

There are several tools that offices can use (we're fond of this one) to help them gather employee satisfaction data. Just as you would inquire about a customer's experience with your product or service, you can send out short surveys company-wide on a regular basis. Shape the questions to get feedback on big-picture issues you're working to address such as overall employee wellness, job satisfaction and company alignment.

Of course, you'll get more honest feedback if you demonstrate commitment to following up on the answers you receive. The more you open the floor to your company stakeholders, the more you'll be able to spot trends and themes you can immediately prioritize.

Where problems fester, company culture tends to be poor and employees grow increasingly resentful. Feedback loops are how you nip issues in the bud. Also, be sure to give your employees the option to respond anonymously, then follow up with an offer to continue the conversation incognito or take things offline in a private setting.

Connect on a human level

Surveys are great, but never forget that numbers don't always tell the whole story. Be empathetic to the emotions of your team members. Employees may not choose to speak up for fear of rocking the boat, so be a great listener of body language and do everything in your ability to get on the same page.

Don't treat a dissatisfied employee as an outlier or assume that they're wrong. Remain open to the possibility that you perhaps haven't done a good enough job sharing facts and details with them or connecting with them at their level. It's in these moments where great leaders shine, as you take responsibility, reshare your point of view and work together to give them a new outlook.

Finally, don't forget to always show appreciation for all feedback, both positive and corrective. A culture that is thankful for the insights of peers and management is one that will continue to improve and attract top-level people and talent for years to come.

Published on: Mar 15, 2017