Being a leader involves communicating, particularly in modern knowledge-based companies. We help managers and management teams to become more clear, to build trust and to strengthen collaboration in the workplace.

Our own stated aim is to be the PR industry’s best workplace. At Westander, we see communicative leadership and trust between employees as important ingredients for a well-functioning workplace.

20 tips for building a culture of feedback

All employees can contribute to their colleagues’ skills development and the company’s competitiveness by giving praise and constructive criticism. When employees feel a sense of trust and help each other, they collaborate more effectively, creativity is enhanced and quality improves.

Here are Westander’s 20 tips on how an individual employee can contribute to a good culture of feedback in the workplace and how management can create a system of feedback.

Tips for the employee

1. Heap praise on others

Praise creates pride, trust and commitment. When a colleague does something good, heap praise on them. Give at least five times as many positive comments as criticisms.

2. Give praise in public

Show your appreciation both personally and in front of others. Also, praise a colleague who is not present to another colleague. You thereby contribute to a culture where everyone speaks highly of each other.

3. Be concrete when giving praise

Talk about a specific action or a specific performance that you appreciate from your colleague and how it makes you feel. Concrete praise is more effective than general exclamations of joy.

4. Give clear information

Contribute to a colleague’s skills development by giving criticism in private – never in front of others. The intention of constructive criticism is to help a colleague.

5. Give prompt criticism

If possible, give criticism immediately following the event to which it relates. The event will still be fresh in the memory, and the situation will be defused by prompt feedback.

6. Be factual in your criticism

Never criticise a colleague’s personality. Instead, describe in factual and concrete terms what the other party has said or done. Leave out any history that you have not brought up previously.

7. Use your own perspective

Formulate your criticism based on your own feelings towards a colleague’s action, on what is important to you and on the change you would like to see. Speak only for yourself, and avoid using words like ‘everyone’, ‘always’ and ‘never’.

8. Develop your own skills

Take the opportunity to develop your own skills as a constructive critic: “Did you think I gave this criticism well?” This will show both your own humility and the fact that you trust your colleague’s judgement.

9. Ask for feedback

Giving constructive criticism is hard work – it is much easier just to let things pass. You should therefore invite others to give criticism: “What did I do well this time? What can I do even better next time?”

10. Thank, think and give feedback

Always thank others for constructive criticism. Next, think about whether or not you believe the criticism is justified. Then give feedback about how you intend to act in the future.

Tips for the management team

11. Talk about the aim

Talk extensively about the aim of establishing a culture of feedback – that it contributes to employees’ skills development and strengthens the company’s competitiveness. This will increase the motivation to contribute.

12. Focus on praise

Emphasise the fact that a good culture of feedback is based on employees hearing at least five times as many positive comments as criticisms. A focus on praise makes feedback more enjoyable.

13. Be a role model

Every manager should act as a role model by heaping praise on employees. Be constructive with your criticism, and convey it orally and in private. Frequently ask for feedback on your own efforts.

14. Coach employees

Encourage employees to give lots of feedback, and to never criticise someone who is not present. Always encourage colleagues to give both praise and criticism directly to the person concerned.

15. Draw up a list of tips

Draw up a list of tips with practical feedback methods. Involve employees in both compiling and updating the list. This sends a signal about how important the issue is to the company.

16. Evaluate work contributions

Encourage employees to always evaluate their own work contributions by asking each other two questions: “What did I do well this time? What can I do even better next time?”

17. Use the recruitment process

Describe the company’s culture of feedback and ask questions about feedback during all recruitments. Make it clear that you are looking for people with good self-esteem who find it easier to deal with feedback.

18. Introduce feedback to new employees

Include the list of tips on feedback in the introduction materials for new employees. Ask new colleagues for questions and suggestions for improvement regarding the tips.

19. Ask questions during appraisals

Make mutual feedback part of the routine for appraisals. Get both employees and managers to answer two questions: “What am I particularly good at? What can I improve during the coming year?”

20. Carry out regular measurements

Carry out an annual measurement among employees: “To what extent do you think we have a good culture of feedback?” Use the results to highlight the value of a culture of feedback.

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