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Launching A Feedback Culture In Your Team Without Singling Out Individuals

You already know some of the benefits of encouraging two-way feedback in your team, but many of you are asking how to get started. I want to help you set up a very positive and helpful way to do this so everyone on your team can benefit.

Not embarrassing individuals is key to launching feedback

Most of you already follow an unwritten rule to not criticize anyone in front of others, even if it's constructive. I think that it’s a good guideline to avoid starting out your feedback campaign “criticizing” individuals, as that can make everyone anxious. So what can you do to offer improvement suggestions for individuals for how they can improve in areas important to themselves and achieve more for the whole team?

Some things you, as a leader, can do to kick start feedback:

  • Mention ahead of time that you're planning to get some ideas from the group about how the team as a whole can improve

  • In your next regularly scheduled meeting, ask the group for some feedback about how everyone can achieve better results on their current project together.

  • Be ready with a few suggestions yourself for getting the flow started (example: let people know ahead of time if they have to be late to something they’ve committed to).

  • Record their answers and share on a shared screen or whiteboard, whether you're online or in person. Write up a few items ahead of time as examples:

  • “We’re not up to speed on delays that affect our work. Let’s meet every day with project members for 5-10 minutes to check in with each team member.”

  • “To learn from each other, let’s share with everyone the approaches that are working especially well with customers.”

  • Before setting up more feedback with individuals, review the goals of the project in more detail so that everybody is on the same page.

  • Rotate the leadership of the group feedback sessions so that different people can ask for the feedback and take turns recording the feedback. You won’t be the only one doing it. You’re creating a culture in which other people are participating in helpful feedback.

  • Critique yourself in group meetings to kick off this culture. Just say, “ I need to send all the project information to everybody in the beginning so that we're all looking at the same information.”

  • Feel free to share with the group any complaints you’re getting from customers that involve more than one person, so that everybody knows what they might expect and can deal with similar problems with their customers.

These steps won’t threaten individuals and will help each team member appreciate how feedback can be helpful to the particular work they do. You’re focusing on improvement, talking about actions the entire group can take, and you are demonstrating that you are not above-it-all and you’re personally committed to improving your own impact on the team’s performance.

What next?

Now you’re ready to start including two-way feedback between yourself and each member of your team when you meet with them one-on-one. Include it naturally, starting with asking for their feedback to you. Then share one or two items (either/or positive or corrective) with them that include specific suggestions for improvement. Move on to other work topics so that feedback is only a small percentage of your regular dialogue with each person.

For more details on giving and receiving helpful feedback, take a look at

Everyday Feedback Workbook: Get Going With Honest Helpful Feedback To And From Your Team Members

Read The Feedback Imperative for more tips and strategies for leading remotely

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