Welcome to AllVoices Experts, a series discussing emerging trends and technologies shaping the Future of Work. We’re on a mission to create safe, happy, and healthy workplaces for all, and we’re excited to learn from experts who share our mission. In Part 2 of today’s Q&A, we continued our conversation with Shelby Wolpa on what HR teams, managers, and individuals can each do to encourage a culture of feedback. Be sure to bookmark this page to come back to as Shelby provides us with some helpful templates and acronyms!
Shelby Wolpa consults with CEOs, People Leaders, and Venture Capital Firms who believe people-first cultures empower successful companies. Shelby has spent the last 15+ years building and scaling people functions at high-growth companies while creating world-class company cultures. She most recently spent 3+ years reimagining what a truly outstanding workplace culture can be in a fully distributed environment at InVision and previously founded three successful people teams at Instacart, One Medical Group, and Palantir Technologies. Additionally, Shelby is an Advisor for SemperVirens Venture Capital and PeopleTech Partners, advising people technology startups to accelerate solutions that drive the future of work. Shelby is also a Board Member at Worldwide ERC, the premier trade association for talent management and global mobility knowledge.
How can HR teams best support a distributed workforce that encourages a positive feedback culture?
Make sure employees know about any and all resources and channels available to them to report, discuss and handle workplace issues and any accompanying stress. Be very clear and transparent about what your organization’s documentation and investigation processes look like and why they exist.
Remember that communicating these resources once is not enough. Sharing all of the forums employees have available to them to provide feedback should be an ongoing process designed to inform, educate, support, and listen to your employees. In short, IESL:
Inform—employees what feedback programs exist, why they are important, and what to expect when providing feedback via various channels.
Educate—employees on specific guidance, tools, and information (Intranet resources, live training, etc.).
Support—employees in different ways to assist individuals through the process (office hours, EAP, skip level 1:1s, etc.).
Listen—to ensure the employee is really heard; the listening has to be ongoing and accessible (1:1s, engagement surveys, focus groups, anonymous reporting, etc.).
What advice would you give to managers on creating a culture of feedback?
Managers should be providing feedback to their direct reports on a regular basis.
Managers - I cannot stress enough the importance of the 1:1. When performed with consistency, regular check-ins with each member of your team can help facilitate the following:
- Building a trusting relationship
- Staying informed & aligned
- Providing mutual feedback to help each other grow
- Career development
Here are the most important things to remember about the sacred 1:1:
Agenda & Format
Encourage your team to prepare their own agenda for what they need from you. The goal is to meet with each member of your team consistently to hear what they are working on, what is going well, and what’s getting in their way. The 1:1 is not for status updates. They should go beyond that to include time for feedback and to discuss your direct report’s development.
Most managers hold weekly or bi-weekly 1:1s for 30-60 minutes. Finding the right cadence will depend on what each of your direct reports needs from you. Frequent cancelations and reschedules can leave your team feeling like they’re not a priority, which can lead to trust issues and decreased engagement. Keep 1:1 time untouched as often as you can.
It can also be helpful to check in on a quarterly basis to ask your team if they feel the 1:1 is an effective use of their time and what they might want to change in the future.
What insight would you share with individual contributors about taking advantage of a feedback culture and giving feedback to their managers?
Your manager is hopefully having regular 1:1s with you. This 1:1 is a great opportunity to give regular feedback to your manager in a lighter-weight way rather than during a formal 360 or performance review process. Employees should also be encouraged to gather feedback from the people they work most closely with and give peer feedback directly.
A useful template for giving feedback to anyone is the Stop-Start-Continue format. You can ask for your manager to provide you with feedback in this way or provide your own feedback in this way.
- What’s one thing this person should stop doing?
- What’s one thing this person should start doing?
- What’s one thing this person should continue doing?
Another useful model for delivering feedback is the Situation - Behavior - Impact (SBI) Feedback Model, which is a framework for giving feedback that focuses on specific situations and behaviors and outlines the impact those behaviors have on others.
Feedback delivered in this way can follow the pattern of:
- Situation - describe the specific situation in which the behavior occurred.
- Behavior - describe the behavior. Be specific and keep to the facts. Don’t insert opinions or judgements.
- Impact - explain how this behavior impacted you, either positively or negatively.
If you are specifically asked to give upward feedback, either directly to your manager or to your manager’s manager, here are some useful questions to think about before sharing your thoughts:
- Is your manager action-oriented? How well do they drive results?
- Does your manager make your work better?
- Does your manager hold you and your peers accountable for producing quality work on time?
- How well does your manager support your professional and personal growth?
- Does your manager communicate well?
- How does your manager accept feedback?