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Leveraging Your Company With a Better Feedback Culture

Updated: May 2, 2023

The first question -- do you have a feedback culture within your company? When answered openly and honestly, you have already created a win for your team/company.

Let's talk about a Feedback Loop. In computer science a feedback loop refers to an endless set of instructions that can be given to a computer that has no final step. Feedback loops are designed to detect potential problems or defect within code.... Can you see where I am going with this?

In organizations, there are environments with: 1. No feedback loop, 2. A positive feedback loop, or 3. A negative feedback loop.

No feedback loop, equates to an unproductive culture. It is one sided, lacks the opportunity for input, growth and evolution -- yours and your team. Humility is the antidote for the leader in a no feedback loop culture.

A positive feedback loop culture can be felt upon entering an organization. This is a two sided conversation, regardless of superiority and role. It takes EQ on both sides. Hallmarks may be in thoughtfulness before speaking, consideration of input before answering, asking questions to genuinely understand what you might be missing if you do not agree, and recognizing verbally the positive aspects of the conversation and the person. See and hear your coworkers/team/leaders. Build trust and solutions when utilizing this type of feedback loop.

A negative feedback loop culture consumes far too many organizations. How to recognize if you are in one? Right vs wrong mentality, prevails often. A cherished mentor of mine once asked when entering a difficult conversation, "Ryan, do you want to be right, or do you want to preserve the relationship?" That was a painful choice to make, early in my leadership. I felt my actions were correct, but someone has to lose for you to win in that scenario. So have you really won being right? I am certainly not implying there are not right from wrong choices, but even if you are correct in the scenario, choosing to be right over preserving the relationship creates a negative feedback culture. Another hallmark of a negative feedback culture can be one where no regular team brainstorming/project idea generating quarterly meetings/retreats are taking place -- no opportunity to facilitate regular input where you desire a variety of thoughts and answers to consider. If you are in an organization where your position only, defines IF you get to provide feedback, run.

How to start a Positive Feedback Loop Culture?

Intentionality in developing culture is paramount and much easier on the front end, if you are a new leader to your company or the owner of a start-up. How do you start a feedback loop when one isn't present? First, develop your internal feedback loop, checking (not judging) each interaction. Give yourself a grade. Did you walk into the meeting with an expectation? Did you walk out of that meeting with both the expectation met or a new direction forward? Did you walk out with a deeper understanding or appreciation for your coworker/client/team/leader? Appreciation and understanding are a topic of their own. For now, realize, they are a choice YOU make in relationships you value. Anytime I work with an organization to develop its people, product, process or fulfillment, we MUST FIND the leaders first. Find their DRIVE and find the PRODUCTIVE and UNPRODUCTIVE behaviors, before we ever start tackling project at hand.

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