Genuine Upward Feedback Requires Trust At Two Levels
In my last video, I explained why, too often, we fail at receiving personal feedback. When it is difficult, we are tempted to evacuate it with an excess of sympathy, which doesn’t sound genuine. Instead, we need to get in a mode where we actively listen, ask questions, and be curious, in order to fully understand the feedback.
This is fundamental to establish a channel of communication that can be trusted.
To ensure the upward feedback process is properly working, collecting honest and meaningful testimonials, leaders must ensure to establish trust at two different levels.
The first level is the personal level. It is the bound, the relationship established between an employee and his or her manager. There is a profound need to establish this connection where the employee feels heard and understood.
When they engage with the management, they must be certain there will be no repercussions. there will be no backlash, nor judgment. They will have the full attention of their interlocutors. Solely then, employees can open up and share their true concerns and feedback.
The second level is at the company level. Employees must understand how the upper feedback process works. What will happen when they share with management? How it will be reported? How will it be filed? What is the amount of time they will have to wait for an answer? Which criteria each feedback are evaluated through? Are there different categories of feedback?
Once the process is clarified, employees must also be shown why it is efficient, namely how their feedback can make things change. For themselves, for others, for the whole company.
They need to understand that they can have an impact, they can create a change – but solely if they express themselves. They need to trust if they take the time to explain their observations, their feelings, it can lead to change. That trusting the upper feedback process can be rewarding.
Several studies proved that increasing the transparency around the upper feedback process diminishes cynicism toward the upward feedback process and also the upper management.
Indeed, it might be challenging to receive personal feedback. It is always difficult to show empathy and put ourselves in the shoes of someone else to contemplate their point of view.
Yet, receiving this stiff, honest, and truthful feedback is a marker for a sane and safe work environment. It demonstrates that leaders have successfully built a workplace where employees feel it is valued to voice their concerns and that they can do it safely.
More about Upper Feedback Process
A great book to read in order to know more about how to implement a company’s culture favoring employees’ feedback is: “The Fearless Organization – Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth” by Amy Edmondson.
Dr. Amy Edmondson explains in her book how to develop psychological safety in the workplace. This notion is mandatory if one hopes to develop a culture of feedback.
As she demonstrated, when employees fear to voice themselves, it stifles all attempts to try something new, to take initiative, to take risks, to challenge the status quo.
Employees might then prefer to remain in a standstill, or even a dead-end if that enables them to avoid being under the spotlight.
This is indeed one of the worst things that could happen to your organization as it would annihilate all opportunities for growth, learn, and become something greater.
Consequently, it is essential to foster this spirit of “genuine and honest feedback”, without any fear of judgment or repercussions, what Dr. Edmondson calls a “psychologically safe” workplace.
If you want to know more about personal feedback with this book: The Fearless Organization – Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation and Growth” by Amy Edmondson, use this link https://amzn.to/2YqNuOu