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Tee Up a Feedback Culture in Every New Work Relationship

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

I started working with three new people last week and they’re all great at what they do. They have diverse specialties & personalities, and I adore each one. I’m sure I seem new and different to them too.

As I met with each to kick off the project, I thought about all of the people and teams I’ve worked with over the years, and how I’ve collaborated well–or not so well. I so much want us to relish working together and to reach fabulous outcomes. I so much don’t want any of us to feel disappointed, burned-out or unappreciated. When we meet as a team later, and they meet the fabulous Diane (who has worked with me for over seventeen years), I want us to feel excited and the interaction free-flowing.

I know from my own research and experience that if the collaboration is to intensify and great results to be achieved, we have to create a culture of feedback in our team. This is something most people don’t think of in the beginning. I haven’t always done it either, even though I should have known better.

With all good intentions about giving people free range in the beginning and not wanting to say a discouraging word, most humans remain silent on a lot of matters when they first start working with someone. Kind of like the honeymoon period or “forming” stage of team development–when everyone just listens to the others and no “storming” has started. But that never lasts. And before anyone says anything, they are usually quite upset about something. By the time the feedback happens, it is usually not constructive.

You can prevent severe “storming”, or at least mitigate the destructive impact, if you create a feedback culture right away. How do you do it?

  1. Share your intention about wanting to create a feedback culture right away, as soon as you agree on your goals.

  2. Explain that you want to make sure they feel free to give YOU feedback as well.

  3. Tee off some of your own strengths as weaknesses as you’ve observed and been told over the years. For instance I’ve been creative but impatient in some past teams

  4. Explain your pet peeves and ask for the same from others.

  5. Give them permission to call out some of your less collaborative qualities as they see them

  6. Set some cultural “ground rules” about how you want to work—from the tools you want to use to expectations for promptness, deadlines, asking for help, decisions, and handling conflicts.

  7. After a few days of intense work together, exchange honest feedback with a big focus on appreciation and details for how to improve things.

You can do all of these things if even if there is only one other person you are working with. But it is important to tee up the feedback ball and start the game right away.

Not only will the work get launched with record efficiency, but you’ll end up liking each other a lot more.

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