14 May Building a culture of feedback to grow individuals, teams and ultimately…your business
How do some companies continue to outperform the market, year after year? How do other companies disrupt legacy industries and stun competitors with extraordinary growth?
Our work with leading organisations brings us to this question all the time.
There are many factors that go into creating a successful business, but ultimately, to compete and be a market leader, you need to have a high-performance culture, both in your executive teams and throughout every level of the business.
Why feedback matters
A high-performance culture is built on foundations of accountability, trust and effective communication. Crucial to communication is feedback – and changing behaviours based on that feedback.
I’d go as far to say strong communication and feedback practices are critical – according to a 2010 study by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), “firms whose culture encourages open communication outperform peers by more than 270% in terms of long-term (10 year) total shareholder return.”
We’ve all experienced a situation where we wish we’d nipped a behaviour in the bud with someone but let it go, only to have the problem worsen. A longstanding client of mine, the CEO of a large property group calls it “the stone in the shoe”. You can’t walk with it in there and the longer you leave it in there it becomes more and more painful.
By giving feedback when it is needed through regular conversation, teams can head in a direction of continual improvement.
The problem with how most companies deliver feedback programs
In today’s economy, hiring top talent isn’t enough. Great organisations don’t just hire the best people, they make sure those people know exactly what they need to achieve and what they need to improve to reach the desired result. Organisational change only happens when mindsets and behaviours shift.
Unfortunately, the way most organisations try to institute change programs and feedback exercises doesn’t work. Feedback has become a once-a-year, tick-the-box exercise which isn’t practical and doesn’t make sense. Change programs are often poorly planned and miss the strategic, cultural and motivational elements of making change work. People need an ongoing structure of conversation with each individual having small progress steps in order to be motivated towards ongoing change.
At Netflix, a high-performance culture has led to phenomenal global growth, with more subscribers worldwide than all other pure streaming services combined.
Netflix encourages direct feedback and blunt assessments of team members via their infamous ‘keeper test’. Employee salaries are visible to managers across the business. They also promote a practice called ‘Sunshining’ where employees, including senior leaders, are invited to share their mistakes and reflect on them.
This only works when based in trust. When leaders are humble enough to ask for and receive criticism, employees know they may give their opinion freely. A culture of radical transparency and high performance may not suit everyone, but in highly competitive industries it may make the difference between stagnation and growth.
Measuring progress to empower leaders and enable change
If we know that feedback is important, and we are committed to giving honest feedback, why is change still so hard to implement?
I believe there is one more ingredient we need to make change stick. We measure everything else in a business – inputs, outputs, growth and market reach – why aren’t we measuring progress and growth in our people?
“What you measure, you can manage.”
I firmly believe this is true. Without regular, objective measurement of capability, it is hard to have a fact-based development discussion, or to see if your investment in training has paid off. For companies who only conduct performance reviews yearly, there is no time to course-correct or provide meaningful feedback when it matters.
So widespread are issues with managing workplace feedback and implementing change that at Lighthouse we created 6Ceed, a leadership system to to align organisations, drive change and empower employees at each level. It’s called 6ceed.
6Ceed measures progress by collecting regular, real-time feedback and scoring on your people from managers, peers, direct reports and more. You can then use this data during regular 1:1 conversations or team meetings.
Insights from 6ceed can be as private or transparent as you require. At Lighthouse, results for the leadership team – including myself – are openly displayed and discussed in monthly strategy meetings, with positive progress celebrated.
One team, aligned to the same goals, accountable for individual actions and behaviours, equipped and empowered to achieve. That’s the goal , surely, for every organisation.
Want to learn how 6Ceed can help you create a positive feedback culture and achieve your business outcomes faster ? Book a demo to learn more.