5 Ways To Create a Feedback-Friendly Remote Work Culture
When your team is remote, there are many aspects that need careful consideration. One of the most important being regular and constructive feedback.
But it needs to be a two way street; employees should also feel comfortable communicating their thoughts and feelings to their employers. And this can benefit the business greatly.
When employees feedback with their insights and perspectives, the business can make important changes that otherwise may not have happened. Likewise, when employees are under no illusions about their performance, everybody knows where they stand and what needs to happen.
Establish core values to encourage feedback
When the team is always physically present, this is easy. For remote workers, it’s a little harder to manage. Some core values should be established and adhered to. For example:
- Honesty: Everyone is constructively honest about what works and what doesn’t
- Openness: There should be no fear around speaking up
- Clarity: Employers are clear about expectations
- Consistency: Regular inquiry and communication is encouraged on both sides
- Vision: all team members are aligned with the bigger picture
When employees can feedback without fear of condemnation and receive constructive feedback from their employers, things change for the better. Employee performance is likely to improve, and the business culture will thrive. Without regular feedback, both things are stunted, and business growth is impacted.
Here are five ways to establish a feedback-friendly remote culture:
1. Encourage honesty
It isn’t always easy to be totally honest. Some managers go about it like a bull in a china shop, knowing that they’re operating from a position of power. This is rarely inspiring to the employee – it’s more likely to be detrimental. Some managers go about it entirely differently; they are not comfortable with the idea of upsetting an employee, so they refrain from being completely honest or don’t give feedback at all.
When employers don’t encourage employees to be honest about their own perspective, the employees don’t feel valued or listened to. None of these things are helpful. For the business to grow, honesty must be the norm. The delivery is everything.
To encourage honest feedback business-wide, employers should construct clear channels through which communication can happen. Communication structures and accessible guides don’t hurt, especially when designed with empathy in mind. It is smart to encourage employees to come to managers with regular, informal feedback between official reviews. It is also smart to ensure that everyone understands that honesty is important but should be delivered with compassion.
2. Be open and understanding
When employees know that transparency is a core value and that they will be listened to and understood, great things happen. They will be more receptive to any changes that need to be made, for one thing. Mutual respect and trust grows between managers and employees, but this is something that has to be carefully cultivated.
There are ways you can encourage this kind of openness and understanding within your remote team. Not everyone has the skills required to feedback constructively. Consider bringing in some training professionals or sending your team on courses that will teach them the skills they need.
It is important that your people understand the importance of being specific and offering clear examples to back up their perspectives. If they can offer a solution or preference with it, the package is complete. They key is in not delivering feedback with any implication of condemnation. Allowing someone a chance to explain things from their point of view without fear of judgment does wonders for working relationships.
3. Be clear with your employees
Clarity is paramount in a feedback-friendly remote culture. When the whole organization knows what is expected from them on both a personal and collective level, it’s easier to communicate over it. When the waters are muddy, there is too much room for assumption on both sides. This rarely works out well.
It’s a good idea to have regular meetings with employees so that expectations on both sides can be determined. Documenting requirements is also a great idea. When it comes to the feedback itself, this should also be documented, however informally. It will then serve as a reference point for both parties at a later date.
It’s also important to show employees that you are open to their constructive feedback too. Clarity works in both directions, so you will want to be clear on their thoughts, feelings and insights. This demonstrates that you take your own position and that of the business seriously, which is motivating for employees. Although it may seem uncomfortable at first, when received well, it will soon become the norm.
4. Communicate consistently
Feedback should never be something that only happens once per year at an appraisal. This period of time is useless for correcting issues. A year’s worth of hindsight is unlikely to result in drastic changes. Another issue is that these kinds of appraisals often feel forced and corporate. For employees, they can feel like a trial of some kind. It’s hard to come up with good examples that will be easily remembered at this later point in time.
For these reasons, feedback should be far more regular. Regular feedback encourages connectivity, and means that managers are always aware of what’s going on within the business. In order to make communication regular, it’s sensible to set a schedule for feedback sessions. Perhaps this would be done once per week, for consistency.
When a team is remote, you’ll need to schedule these sessions over some kind of video chat or phone call. One-to-ones are crucial, and group feedback sessions are also good for brainstorming ideas and spreading awareness throughout the company, with minimal effort. You might also set up a feedback box online for people to drop ideas into whenever they arise.
5. Share the company vision
When the whole team understands the company’s vision, feedback becomes much easier to give. When all minds are aligned in understanding of the company’s long-term goals, feedback can be centred around this. Sharing the vision gives employees the tools they need to understand where their own role and performance fits in.
The vision is what needs be supported, so feedback to employees can be done with this in mind. Therefore, when feedback is given, it should be presented in a way that demonstrates the overall impact on the company.
Employees are also more likely to feel that they’re offering a valuable contribution to the business, so they’ll be happy to offer their own opinions and insights for the greater good of all involved.
Ultimately, when you create a safe space for all of your team to easily share their ideas, feelings and concerns – on a regular basis – the business can only go from strength to strength.
About the Author
Daniel Ross is part of the marketing team at Roubler — cloud based HR and payroll workforce management software founded in Australia. Their mission is to change the way the world manages its workforces.