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Creating a culture of communication and feedback

Hatty Blue

The global pandemic has changed many of our cultural norms in significant ways which none of us could have imagined.

Who knew that office chats, lunch together or Friday drinks could influence our relationships in so many ways.

Now, team culture must be cultivated over a distance, for the foreseeable future, or in a way that embraces the new hybrid remote working model – not an easy task for businesses whose culture is rooted in the atmosphere of the workplace.

As a responsible employer, this means adhering to best working practices which could mean offering remote and flexible working where possible.

Employees who used to love the buzz of the office may find they work better from home; some might now prefer flexible start and finish times to accommodate changing lifestyles. And most certainly some employees may be looking for training and development in new areas.

Of course, this can be easier said than implemented – each of your team members will have specific things they are looking for from their role. Still, the easiest way to find out what they are looking for is to complete an employee audit as their priorities might have changed since Covid.

Here is a brief example of the questions to be asking.

·      Do your team know what is expected of them at work,

·      …. and how well connected they feel to their job roles?

·      Are they aware of the company's mission and values and how this relates to them in their role?

·      Do they feel they have the equipment and resources to carry out their role effectively- either in the office or at home?

Let's carry on with our discussion on building culture in an increasingly remote world.

There are many benefits to remote working for both the employer and the employee. Still, one downside is often cited, which is that communication is more challenging due to many of the typical communication channels being 'unavailable.'

Set clear instructions for the type of communications you want from your team, and remember that all teams need an outlet to talk about non-work related or more casual topics; a virtual water-cooler if you will.

You may even want to invest in communication skills training for team members, as not everyone will possess the skill to communicate effectively from a distance.

Giving Meaningful Feedback

Appropriate feedback is actually a gift, yet a Gallup study found that only a third of employees believe the feedback they are given is useful and will help them improve.

When looking to rebuild or strengthen your team culture, you must give feedback to employees at the right time. Feedback does not only mean constructive criticism; it can also mean highlighting and praising your team when they do a great job or excel in their role.

If your team culture has suffered in the past, it might have been due to a lack of an effective feedback strategy. No employee wants to feel as though their work is overlooked. Mutual respect is necessary for a great team spirit which helps facilitate an excellent company culture.

Create an environment where managers are encouraged to give praise freely, celebrate your team's wins and let them know that they are valued.

Likewise, you will need a coaching framework to give developmental feedback when necessary.

There is an art to giving feedback which bolsters and encourage an employee; giving feedback the 'wrong' way will leave team members feeling deflated and hopeless.

The following are examples of how to incorporate feedback to help develop your team culture.

·      Always give feedback in a timely way – when something goes wrong, don't try to ignore it. Address problems straight away so that they are dealt with quickly and don't have time to damage the team's environment.

·      Make time for regular, weekly or bi-monthly check-ins with your team – a once a year appraisal may be too long and can make employees feel isolated, forgotten about or misguided.

·      Be specific – if you need to address poor performance, be specific with times, dates and examples. Unclear feedback may only serve to confuse employees.

·      Never give feedback to a team member in front of others, always have performance conversations in private.