Create a Culture of Feedback

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We want everyone to be responsible and empowered to constructively criticize anyone or anything else, no matter their position at the company.

If you see something, say something. It’s an axiom we all follow to keep each other safe when we’re out and about. But what if it were applied at work? That’s exactly what’s expected of folks at Outcome Health.

No matter the company, there’s always room for improvement. That’s especially true at a company like ours that has reached hyper-growth status–both in terms of its revenue and the speed with which it has added employees over the past three years. With all these new employees, new teams, processes, and products have been created. And in such an environment of novelty and uncertainty, things get messy, projects break down, people make mistakes.

At Outcome Health, we don’t mind that people make mistakes. That’s going to happen. But we do mind if those mistakes either aren’t addressed constructively or–even worse–aren’t addressed at all. If mistakes aren’t constructively addressed, then our hyper-growth will be a flash in the pan, and the lofty goals to which we aspire will remain, well…aspirational.

That’s why we want to create a culture of continuous feedback at Outcome Health. If this culture fully takes root, then all feedback at Outcome Health would feel normal and be both constructive and universal. We want everyone to be responsible and empowered to constructively criticize anyone or anything else, no matter their position at the company.

And we believe that such feedback is a skill that should be taught. We therefore lead trainings about how to give and receive feedback effectively. Feedback is effective 1) when based on a tangible, perceived behavior and 2) intended either to improve the giver’s relationship with the receiver or to improve the receiver’s work. The best way to achieve this is to avoid making conclusive, judgmental statements, such as, “I think you’re lazy!” and instead offering examples of concerning behavior, followed by an offering of the impression that those behaviors create and an opportunity for the receiver to respond. For example:

You haven’t been raising your hand to take on much work, especially at the Tuesday and Thursday meetings. It’s starting to feel like you’re avoiding taking on new projects, and this is slowing down the output of the team. Do you see things differently?

In this way, feedback becomes a two-way exchange that’s honest, calm, logical, and professional, rather than a one-way attack that’s emotionally-charged, judgmental, and personal. In the former situation, the giver invites the receiver to reach the same conclusion she has reached based on the same facts that she has observed. In the latter, the giver simply declares that the receiver is wrong without any further discussion. No matter their position in the company, we want our people to realize their mistakes and voluntarily correct them. That’s how growth happens.

But feedback needn’t be negative. Indeed, positive feedback is another important source of growth. It reinforces good behavior and creates confidence and enthusiasm that can absolutely be felt throughout the company. It’s the enthusiasm with which one works when she’s doing a good job, her hard work is paying off, and the company is succeeding as a result. It’s enthusiasm that’s infectious and which, yes, we teach.

Therefore, when you see something (good), say something (good). Make that your daily practice. And then watch your company and its people grow.

Varsha Vig is the Head of People Programs at Outcome Health.