4 Easy Ways To Create an Authentic Feedback Culture


It’s one of our favorite things to talk about because, quite frankly, it’s one of our favorite things to do, to be, to champion. 

Completely and fully real, open, and honest: with our team, with our clients. It's kind of our jam. 

Our COO, James Shaw, talks about how our tagline Get Shit Done encompasses our commitment to getting the job done as quickly and effectively as possible and how and why we do that with transparency and authenticity.

It’s just one thing that makes us unique from any other company out there – we communicate with radical candor because friends, life is just too short to hide behind a fake facade or sugar coat anything. We value, appreciate, and respect our team members and clients way too much to be anything but our authentic selves. 

There are many ways we incorporate that sense of authenticity into our everyday work culture, including regular feedback. 

Here at Inventive, we believe that feedback shouldn’t be just a once-a-year activity. The most engaged companies make feedback continuous, from monthly employee satisfaction surveys to biweekly one-on-ones. However, much like telling yourself that you’re only going to buy two boxes of Girl Scout cookies this year instead of the usual six, giving feedback is much easier said than done.

Chances are, you’ve probably committed at least one feedback faux pas. 

Some employers talk about how they would’ve done things better. Others only highlight what a team member does wrong while skimping on recognition. In the end, these less-than-stellar feedback tactics more often than not create friction rather than inspire change. 

By establishing a feedback culture where everyone in your workplace feels comfortable giving and receiving feedback regularly, addressing problems becomes a collaborative effort. And that’s really the goal we all want to accomplish. 

What is “Feedback Culture?”

For several years, feedback culture has been a buzz phrase in the HR and business world. But what is it, exactly? A feedback culture is a culture in which every employee feels that they can share feedback with another person in the organization - regardless of their role. Ideally, this type of culture will form a sort of safe space where employees feel comfortable voicing their concerns and suggestions, and employers can express feedback constructively. 

A healthy feedback culture is one where feedback is the norm rather than a signal that something is wrong. That means that when improvements are needed, asking for change won’t seem awkward or out of the blue for employees or employers. Instead, you’ll be able to enhance business processes while empowering employees to excel — nay, kick ass – in their roles.

Below are four simple ways you and your business can begin to create and foster a feedback culture of authenticity in your workplace. 

Incorporate Feedback Culture Into Your Onboarding Steps

A strong feedback culture starts from day one. Your new employee’s first six months are the best time to build healthy habits and set the standard for continuous feedback. This also means breaking any bad feedback habits your new hire may have picked up in the past. (It’s okay; we’ve all done it. But this is an opportunity to squash those negative habits and build positive ones). 

To kick things off, send an onboarding pulse survey to your new hire within the first 90 days when they’re typically most engaged. Pulse surveys are quick, short, focused surveys centered around a single question. They’re great for checking in with your new hire without any added pressure.

Be sure to ask straightforward, simple questions like:

  • Do you have all the tools and resources to perform your job well?
  • Have you faced any challenges during the onboarding process?

Next, it’s a good idea to sit down with your new hire to discuss results from previous employee surveys. Take the opportunity to share how your team has acted on the feedback given. This demonstrates to the employee that feedback is not only welcomed but valued at your workplace.

Offer Multiple Ways To Share Feedback

A crucial part of fostering a workplace feedback culture is having multiple feedback channels available to your employees. There are many different channels to help facilitate feedback in your organization. Below are a few great options to keep in mind:

  • Internal satisfaction surveys (we use Office Vibe) are seamless and straightforward feedback tools. They allow employees to provide feedback quickly and easily, which increases their chances of sharing. Employees can also add anonymous comments, which help to improve that open and honest feedback loop. 
  • Virtual town halls can be an excellent place for management to set the tone for giving and requesting feedback. Announcements on company updates and goals also flow well with a call for feedback. Inventive has a monthly All-Hands meeting where we all get the opportunity to share important company updates and hang out for an hour with our amazing co-workers. It's also is a great time to share feedback on work processes, projects, etc. 
  • Create a virtual watercooler for your employees! A virtual water cooler is a space where teammates can connect without the pressure of a meeting and without the worry of clogging up a chatroom meant for business. Having a dedicated space for more personal conversations can help connect the whole team, not just a few employees. It’s easy to create one, especially if the team uses a group chat, such as Slack, Discord, or Microsoft teams.
  • One-on-ones are great for tackling more in-depth context-specific feedback or feedback that may involve personal matters. If something is bothering you or beyond thrilled with something, we want to know about it all. It’s important to be there to help resolve any issues that may arise as soon as possible and celebrate the victories as well. 

Let Your Leaders Set The Standard

When it comes to building a feedback culture, your leadership team has to walk the walk before talking the talk. Managers should ask for feedback as much as they dish it out and promote it across their teams.

This is especially significant considering that just 29% of employees believe that their leader’s vision for the company aligns with that of the rest of their organization. When leaders ask for feedback, it not only acknowledges their own vulnerability and shows a desire to align with their employees, but it equally promotes a growth mindset. It also normalizes feedback from the top onwards. 

Support Feedback With Employee Recognition

Recognizing your employees is at the heart of great workplace feedback culture. 

One of the things Inventive loves to do every week is to share our gratitude in what we like to call “Fist Bump Friday.” It may seem like a simple email thread thanking our team members for the work they’ve done, the positive attitudes they’ve displayed, the projects they’ve helped with, etc., but in actuality, the effects it has on morale, culture, and happiness are huge! Of course, you don’t have to have a “Fist Bump Friday,” but incorporating a regular time in which you shout out your incredible employees and their contributions goes a long way.

Recognition should also be a part of your day-to-day interactions. When an employee succeeds, you should have them hear about it. Whether it’s an idea they brought up during your weekly stand-up or how they supported another team member, recognizing achievements builds trust and authenticity across your team. These inevitably become the building blocks of a strong workplace feedback culture. 

When you’re giving recognition, make sure you’re also specific in highlighting what skills, achievements, or outcomes are recognized. Once a team member knows what strengths they are being recognized for, they can better tap into those incredible attributes for the future.  

Key Takeaways

Continuous and authentic feedback is the backbone of your business, the cream filling to your Oreo cookie, the frosty mug to your Thirsty Thursday afternoon beer. When done right, it can inspire and fuel your teams to approach tasks from a different perspective and find new solutions to your company’s biggest challenges. 

But like most good things, feedback doesn’t work as a one-off. Embedding a continuous and authentic feedback culture into your workplace through healthy habits is the best way to ensure that feedback is always the norm in your workplace. 

And that’s something we can all get behind.