Many people consider feedback to be valuable, but only when it’s given by the right person at the right time. Otherwise, we tend to tune out what might be really useful feedback.
For a manager, the challenge is: How do you make feedback acceptable all the time? Even though listening is an often underrated skill, developing a listening culture is key to optimizing the feedback process.
1. Create trust.
Trust is the key to a successful feedback exchange. People will immediately disregard feedback from people they don’t believe have their best interests in mind. This is why feedback given in anger almost never works. When you’re angry, you automatically trigger the other person’s natural feelings of defense. Whether or not the feedback being given is actually helpful, the other person will often assume it’s only meant as an attack.
2. Look at things from a different perspective.
There is never one right answer to any question. Sara Canaday, author of You—According to Them: Uncovering the blind spots that impact your reputation and your career, asserts that one of the most important things you can learn from feedback is the inadvertent behavior you may be displaying in the workplace.
Do others see you as innovative or rebellious? Candid or insensitive? This all depends on your point of view. This is where getting peer feedback is helpful. Use it to see your actions from an outsider’s perspective.
3. Reward ideas that challenge the status quo.
Employees may often feel intimidated to question established practices. Encourage your employees to speak up by listening, recognizing and maybe even trying out new ways of doing things.
To establish a feedback culture, you really need to demonstrate that you’re prepared to open everything up for discussion. If others see someone being rewarded for this type of behavior, they’ll be more likely to follow.
4. More brainstorming sessions.
The more interaction your employees have with each other the more chances they’ll get to practice their listening skills. Brainstorming sessions are a great way to encourage knowledge-sharing and strengthen these skills. If people have a hard time at first, try setting some ground rules. For example: No one is allowed to talk over someone while they’re speaking.
To create a culture where people listen and take feedback to heart, remember that it all starts with trust, taking an outsider’s perspective on things and openly encouraging new ideas. Trust me, it’s not easy, but it’s really worth exploring.
Matias Rodsevich does Communications at Impraise, a web-based and mobile solution for actionable, real-time feedback at work.