Gone are the days of having to talk to people and leaders about the value of feedback. 20 years ago, best selling book ‘Crucial Conversations’ entered the market and the momentum began. Then Susan Scott took having difficult conversations to the next level with ‘Fierce Conversations’. Stone and Heen gave us ‘Thanks for the Feedback’ People had the tools and the belief that feedback matters. At an individual level we crave it, at a leadership level we understand the value and from an organisations perspective all the engagement surveys are telling us – people want more feedback!
When we have the conversations that matter. When we give feedback that helps individuals improve their ability to do their job and their people skills; our people grow. When we teach people how to work together, resolve conflicts and take responsibility for how they come across; team thrive and when we have conversations around appreciating diverse thinking and get curious about different perspectives; companies become the best of the best. When the performance of people grows… so does the success of the team and business. It’s a no brainer!
Ray Dalio, Harvard graduate and CEO of multiple organisations, is known as one of most influential businessmen worldwide. Dalio created an algorithm to create radical honesty and transparency in his organisation, which led to it becoming one of the most successful hedge fund firms in the world. It allowed his people to speak up and say what they really think.
Dalio says that when you create a culture of ‘radical transparency’ where every conversation, email, performance and 360 review and all data is made readily available for everyone in the business, then the best decisions are made and the strongest relationships forged. Because everyone knows everything. There is no guess work and assumptions are eradicated. Whilst this is the extreme version… the results speak for themselves. When people have the conversations that matter – the performance of our people and business is exponential.
Yet we are still not nailing it. There are some things in the way of creating these performance enhancing feedback cultures;
- We don’t muster the courage to invest in our people and culture.
Most are stuck in the 1940s and they just don’t get it. They fail to acknowledge that their biggest assets are not their products or services but their people. How can you ever be a high-performing company if you don’t realise this?
- We think the change will be too hard and too disruptive.
Creating a cultural shift requires effort, but without the investment there will be no change. It’s like the frustrated lumberjack who continues to use a blunt saw to chop down the trees. He decides he doesn’t have time to stop and sharpen it. Yet all he is doing is making more work for himself.
- We send everyone to training and think it will magically transform them.
Training programsalone won’t develop your people’s skills and create a new magical culture of happyland. This is like going to the gym once and expecting a full body transformation. When done well it is a start, and a good one, but only a start nevertheless.
- We don’t know how to keep momentum and embed the change
Unless we make everyone accountable and make it easy to implement their learnings, then it is likely to be forgotten. We also need to make it inspiring to learn and embed it after. We want our people to know they are gaining time by focusing on improving – we’re not just stealing precious time away from their work for a day of training and sandwiches. Like Taylor Swift says, ‘Band aids don’t fix bullet holes.’
And the good news is, embedding a feedback culture is easier than you think.