“I want to be feedback-friendly.
“If you can’t take it, you also shouldn’t give it.”
So the famous adage goes.
The problem is that, if no one ever gives criticism, we won’t advance as a species. Moreover, our businesses won’t progress.
No successful endeavor ever became a success without constructive feedback. But what do you do when not everyone on your team is versed in the art of giving feedback? And not everyone wants to give it?
Moreover, they don’t feel confident enough to give it, or as though it’s their place to give it. This happens on teams, and it’s problematic. Feedback requires a modicum of emotional intelligence, confidence, and a willingness to have an uncomfortable conversation with others.
The person who hands out the criticism must be prepared for the backlash that might come their way, too (picture a raging employee shooting back with a criticism of their own that’s taken on a sinisterly personal slant).
And not everyone wants to have to deal with that.
However, striving for a feedback-friendly culture is important because feedback improves transparency, openness, morale – and performance.
The more constructive criticism we give to each other, the more our team can grow with the feedback.
Feedback should also come from your customers. When you cultivate and respond to customer feedback – as McDonald’s did – you begin to learn more about what your customers want, which means you can give them more of what they want. This improves your company’s core values, it boosts customer satisfaction – and it can lead to an increase in customer loyalty and sales.
In this article, we will discuss ways to help you and your team overcome the obstacles that prevent us from giving and receiving feedback.
The Importance Of Being Customer-Centric
Being customer-centric means creating an outstanding customer experience so that you drive more loyalty and sales. While “content is king” is a maxim that many businesses subscribe to, content is worth nothing if it isn’t backed up by a solid customer experience.
Stats have indeed shown that the customer experience will supersede both product and price by 2020 when it comes to consumer satisfaction. This means that you need to create a harmonious company culture first and foremost that’s geared towards putting the customer at the heart of everything you do.
The more you take care of your customer, the more love they will show you in return.
The Leader Needs To Encourage For Feedback
Picture it: An employee has shown some real bravery in stepping forward and throwing some constructive feedback at the leader.
The leader, however, has taken it personally. They bristle and shoot back: “How about you just do your job, huh?”
The employee knows they stepped out of line and so stays in their lane from now on. They’re embarrassed, ashamed and worried that one more breach of office protocol will cost them their job.
If you want to encourage a feedback-friendly culture at your business, it all starts with the leader. If this is you, you need to lead by example and welcome constructive feedback.
No one is perfect. Don’t let your ego get in the way of constructive feedback from your employees. Instead, show the team that feedback – no matter how uncomfortable – is something you’re willing to listen to, and even act upon.
When the leader does this, it imbues the rest of the team with the confidence needed to speak up. It sets the tone and creates the kind of culture where feedback can thrive.
So make yourself vulnerable. Invite feedback of yourself and your role. Ask your team where you can improve. This will make you feel uncomfortable at times, but it puts you in a position of strength by showing that you have courage. If you can take criticism, so can everyone else on your team.
Ask Better Questions
Performance coach Tony Robbins talks a lot about the need to ask better questions. When we ask better questions, we find solutions faster.
Steve Jobs knew this. At Pixar, he knew that asking “Are there any questions?” was far too vague and that it didn’t invite people to leave their comfort zone by penetrating with their questions and feedback. Instead, he would ask for what was not working and for what was working.
These two questions cut right to the chase and invited honest answers that actually addresses the issues.
The more times you ask the right questions, the better the answers will be. In turn, this will encourage more feedback because your team members can see that feedback works.
Make Feedback The Norm
All companies have performance appraisals, but they’re usually only carried out twice a year a the most. The problem with this is that certain issues go unmentioned for months, and when they’re aired, they can come as a surprise.
Worse still, when we’re not used to giving feedback, we’re hardly going to be super direct during that once or twice-a-year appraisal. As a result, we don’t get to say what really needs to be said.
When you make feedback the norm – a part of daily life – problems are nipped in the bud immediately. Giving constructive criticism becomes easier.
Not just that, but when we’re accustomed to giving constructive criticism, we all become better at delivering it so that the situation is no longer tense or uncomfortable, and we also become better at receiving it and acting on it.
Imagine it: If you’re criticized for the first time in six months, it’s going to sting. You won’t be used to it. On the other hand, if feedback is the norm at your workplace, you become used to it. You toughen up and realize that it’s nothing personal. It’s just a friendly reminder from your teammate that there is a better way to do your job better.
As a leader, you need to show your team members that it’s totally okay for them to give frequent, honest performance-related feedback to one another. This can be done out in the open, or – especially if you have a remote team of workers – it can be done on team collaboration apps. Make sure people know that it’s okay to dole out criticism as long as it’s constructive and for the good of the team.
You could even take your team out to a neutral venue, such as a coffee shop, for feedback sessions.
Kill The Ego
Many people find it hard to receive feedback because it feels so personal. It’s like an attack on our ego.
Instead of listening to what the person giving the feedback is saying, we actually judge them!
It’s important to show your team members that feedback is a learning experience and nothing judgemental. It’s not about ego, and it isn’t a personal attack. Ignore who is giving the feedback, and don’t confuse the feedback with your own identity.
Customer Centric Examples
Being customer-centric means that you are doing things that are focused on providing the best customer experience possible. Here are a few things you could try to make your company more customer-centric:
Be Transparent – Consider opening up the lines of communication by giving your customers an inside look into how you make your products, as well as how you price them up. Create ‘behind the scenes’ videos that bring you closer together with your audience.
Implement Personalization – One of the things customers want more of is personalization. This is when you use Artificial Intelligence to segment your audience so that tailor your content, product recommendations and emails specifically to the individual consumer. This ensures that they see more of what they want and less of what they don’t, which in turn increases customer satisfaction and conversions.
Make It Fun – If you’re the kind of company who delivers items directly to a customers door, consider how you can make the process more fun and interactive. For example, you could invite your customers to take a funny picture of them using your product. Whoever takes the funniest picture wins a prize.
Listen To Your Customers – Customer feedback can motivate the most powerful changes within your company because it’s feedback from the people who matter the most. It’s important to listen to what your customers want and to then act on it. You can send emails asking for feedback, or you can hold polls and surveys on social media to get the information you want.
These are the ways to build a feedback-friendly culture in your organization. Set the tone by inviting feedback of your own performance. Show your team how to overcome their ego and that this is nothing personal. Make feedback the norm and learn how to ask questions that cut to the chase and get to the point faster.
About the Author
Kas Szatylowicz is a social media manager and outreach coordinator at Nightwatch — a search visibility tool of the next generation. Check out Nightwatch blog and connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter: @KasSzatylowicz
Also published on Medium.