Communication Needs Feedback

Building a culture for your Lean processes to thrive on can be very difficult without the right tools and skills within the population of your facility. Lean is no different than safety or any other process your organization implements, it takes a culture that believes and thrives on the ideas your processes are founded on. Behind every culture though, is the understanding and appreciation for communication. Successful communication is made up of key ingredients, one of those being feedback.

provide feedbackFeedback is Key

Feedback is essential to improving communication. For many, the thought of open dialogue results in a spike in their anxiety levels, but this is more of a result of not having the skills to have an engaging conversation that allows for feedback. When you can understand and implement feedback into your everyday conversations around the workplace, you are able to add insight and more importantly, improve the conversation, allowing for it to be a foundation for future conversations.

Neglecting to give feedback is neglecting yourself of an improvement opportunity, Feedback helps one understand one another and allows them to interpret one’s behavior through effective dialogue. It allows us to continue our learning process by learning how others interpret our words. When we receive feedback, we understand what effect we are having on the conversation, which allows us to correct our behavior or tone if needed. This type of information gathering is what separates a constructive conversation from meaningless words.

It is important to understand that communication is a two-way street which requires a mutual understanding of the message being transmitted. Feedback is the linkage between what the communicator is trying to say and how the recipient is receiving the message. As the communicator receives feedback, they can then evaluate the effectiveness of their message and determine what changes, if any, need to be made.

Effects of Feedback

  • Turns a meaningless conversation into a meaningful one.
  • Helps sustain and improve the communication process.
  • Lets the communicator know if their message is being received properly.
  • Pushes the conversation flow and topic of what’s being discussed.
  • Completes the communication process or starts it over for further discussion.

The benefits of a culture built on engaging communication dependent upon feedback is clear, but getting there is a challenge. People need to be comfortable and trust one another, to properly benefit from feedback. To help, here are some key elements to keep in mind when trying to establish a culture that thrives on one’s feedback.

1. Relationships need trust

Whether it’s obvious or not in your workplace, some people have better relationships with one another than others do. Some good, some bad. Those relationships are built on trust and how well they communicate with each other is dependent upon their trust level with each other. Those with higher trust levels are going to be more willing to give feedback with one another during a conversation. Creating an environment where everyone is on the same trust level is difficult, but you can take the steps to help promote it.

Tips to help build trust:

  • Organize gatherings– Pizza Fridays, bagel Mondays, brainstorming meeting, these are just a few examples of ways to bring employees together. Once together, employees have the chance to get to know one another better and start the trust building process.
  • Let others know it’s ok to say no– Giving feedback is not about being a “yes man.” Saying no is actually a good way to show that you are listening and not just nodding your head.
  • Don’t rush to judgement– Sometimes you are not always ready to provide feedback. That’s ok. Bad feedback can be just as bad as no feedback at all. If you are not ready to provide the critical thinking necessary for constructive feedback, then postpone it until you are. This shows others that you want to put the effort in, but just need more time to do so.

2. Make it a positive experience

We’ve all had the boss or supervisor that felt they could get the best out of their staff by publicly criticizing them to make a point. This is about the worst way possible to build a culture that hopes to thrive on communication and feedback. Feedback is meant to help the recipient improve themselves or the situation at hand. Public criticism may provide a short-term impact, but if you want to build a culture that feels comfortable and open to give public feedback, keep it positive while in the open. There is a time and place for criticism, even negativity, but it’s behind closed doors.

3. Make it the norm

Providing feedback should not be a special event. Only providing feedback during special events can make people feel uncomfortable and take some of the sincerity away if it seems planned out. Feedback needs to be an organic part of the culture that everyone is comfortable doing and being around. Once the behavior appears to be the norm, more will be willing to participate and contribute to the feedback process.

Keep it up

Everyone takes feedback a different way. Our previous experiences play a big role in our current roles. This is something we should all be conscious of, when receiving and giving feedback. Don’t be discouraged by one’s emotional state. Continue to provide feedback, but adjust your method to get the best out of your effort, while providing them with the content they need to improve.

It also helps to provide feedback in ‘I-messages.’ Meaning, you say “I think,” rather than “you should.” This takes the perception away that you are being accusatory or judgmental in your feedback, which takes away from its purpose.

 One last thing

Your body language is extremely important during the course of a conversation. Body language is also considered feedback and can be just as negative as positive. Keep this in mind when you’re in a conversation and try to stay as neutral as possible with your body language. Let your words and critical thinking ability provide the feedback to be the most effective.

Additional Resources