6 Ways to Build a Culture of Feedback

Under the guise of “being nice,” many leaders fail to offer feedback to those they lead. Instead, they often ignore or work around the deficiency. Because feedback is an essential ingredient in development, teams and individuals suffer when leaders fail to provide it. So how do you, as a leader, develop a culture of feedback in the team that you lead? Here are six ways to increase the value of feedback among those you are leading:

1)    Prepare the team.

If you are on a team where feedback has not been provided, problems have been ignored, and people have not been held accountable, bringing feedback into the culture will be uncomfortable for people. It will feel like a shock to the culture, so prepare the team by discussing the importance of feedback in development.

2)    Set the pace in receiving feedback.

If feedback is really about growth, then set the pace. Ask for feedback from others, from both your supervisor and those you lead. Personal examples: I always invite my bosses (Dr. Rainer & Dr. Waggoner) to my divisional meetings and ask for feedback after each meeting. During annual reviews, I ask those I lead to share with me a “Stop, Start, and Keep Doing.”

  • What is something I am doing as a leader that I should stop doing?
  • What is something I am not doing that I should be doing?
  • What is something I am doing that you want me to continue doing?

The feedback and discussion has been very helpful to me and by God’s grace raises the value of feedback on the team.

3)    Evaluate initiatives/projects as a team.

When a major initiative, goal, project, etc. is completed, evaluate as a team. The helpful takeaways will boost the embracing of feedback. Three possible buckets of evaluation are:

  • What can we learn from what went well (the positives)?
  • What can we learn from what did not go well (the negatives)?
  • What will we change?

4)    Provide instruction personally.

When meeting privately with individuals on your team, provide both affirmation and corrective feedback. Do so regularly with the intention of serving each person, of helping him/her become a better leader.

5)    Practice key skills as a group.

If there is an important skill you are seeking to increase on the team, consider practicing the skill together as a team and providing real-time feedback.

6)    Develop simple evaluation tools.

You can’t provide helpful feedback without a definition of what a win is. You can’t coach someone up to a standard if a standard has not been set. In a local church, you may want a simple evaluation tool for what an effective leadership team meeting looks like, for the hospitality a guest receives, or for key elements in a student ministry gathering. You must be careful that a tool does not degenerate into merely checking boxes with the heart of the ministry being lost. But a tool can be used for discussion that sparks development.

God-honoring feedback is rooted in a desire to serve those you are leading by helping develop them.