I was recently working with a company to raise its employee engagement and increase its staff retention. Despite study after study showing that appreciation is one of the key workplace engagers’, I am amazed how many organisations do not have a culture of feedback.
When I work with a leadership team, one of the first things I ask them is, ‘what is the feedback culture in your organisation?’. Is it mainly:
- Positive i.e. people in the organisation regularly receive both formal and informal feedback on what they have done well?
- None – people in the organisation normally don’t hear anything?
- Negative – people in the organisation only get feedback when they have done something wrong or there is an issue?
Usually the senior leadership team will tell me that they are people focused and that the culture is one of regular positive feedback.
When I meet the middle managers and ask them the same question, they tell me that the culture of feedback from their senior management is usually none or negative. When I ask them what culture of feedback they engage in with their staff, they nearly always tell me, it is one of positive feedback. But when I meet the front-line staff, they tell me it is ‘none’ or ‘negative’.
How are these intelligent experienced leaders so wide off the mark?
In my experience, the reason for this is the ‘law of diminishing intent’. Most of us are well meaning and see the benefits of having a culture of positive feedback. We have the intention of giving our staff and colleagues positive feedback. But as we are so busy, we don’t actually take the time out to give this feedback.
Why there is a gap between the feedback culture we perceive to be in our organisation and the one that is actually there, is one of ‘intent’. Because we intended to do it, we get the ‘positive feeling’ ourselves. But as most of their staff are not mind readers, they don’t know of this intent and never get to hear this feedback!
Your challenge for this week: Twice a week go through your list of key stakeholders and ask yourself, ‘did any of them dO something that warrants feedback from me?’, then make a point of giving this feedback to them.