5 Tips for Creating a Positive Feedback Culture in the Workplace

positive feedback culture

Unless your team has been with you since the beginning of their careers, chances are good they have some preconceived notions about what it means to give and receive feedback at work. Unfortunately, chances are decent that their impression of feedback might be less than rosy. Let’s face it, there are a lot of feedback best practices not being followed out there. And poorly delivered feedback can result in hurt feelings, defensiveness and tension. The good news is you can change your team’s perception of feedback—with these 5 tips for creating a positive feedback culture in the workplace.

1. Define Feedback

Just like you spell out your company’s mission and core values, it’s a good idea to define what feedback means at your organization and establish some rules about providing it. Remember that feedback is an inherently positive thing, and it should be portrayed as such in your company culture.

2.  Model Openness to Feedback

A great way to establish a positive feedback culture is to model the behavior you want to see in your team. Ask for their feedback regularly and show an eagerness to act on their feedback, and over time you will build an office of people who will do the same.

3. Incorporate Feedback Opportunities Regularly

Creating a positive feedback culture won’t happen if your idea of feedback is an annual review. Bodybuilders don’t get stronger lifting once a month. They get stronger by going to the gym regularly. The same principle applies with creating a positive feedback culture. Give your team lots of opportunities to give and receive feedback in a variety of ways, like with one of our 360 feedback surveys or pulse surveys. When feedback is normalized, people feel more comfortable receiving and giving it. It lowers the stakes and supports openness.

4. Give Negative Feedback Privately

When given publicly, negative or constructive feedback can feel humiliating or punitive and may elicit defensive and angry responses. Positive feedback, however, is great to share in front of an audience. Integrating a routine of public praise into your company meetings or newsletters can help people to feel more open to private, constructive feedback.

5. Focus on the Positive

The experts at the Society for Human Resources Management suggest a feedback ratio of 5 to 1. That means for every one piece of negative feedback delivered, you should give five pieces of praise. Even when you have constructive feedback to give, you still can build someone up and use the opportunity to help them build their skills.

Do this by noting what was done well and indicate what can be done differently in the future rather than focusing on the past event.

Speaking of past events, creating a positive feedback culture means focusing on the here and now. Don’t bother rehashing the past if too much time has passed. Delayed responses are often ineffective and can make a person feel targeted or insecure. Try not to bring up old concerns or previous mistakes, unless highlighting a pattern is important to forming a solution.

Feedback is important for the development of a strong team, but the process can be fraught. Which of these tips will you try first to boost the positive feedback culture at your workplace?