Feedback Culture—and How to Build It in Your Organization

Great leaders know it feels good to be recognized for our accomplishments—and even better when “constructive criticism” is actually constructive, without the criticism. 

The mere mention of feedback in some organizations can put people in a defensive state. However, if organizations can create a culture of feedback – understanding how others experience us provides valuable opportunities to learn and grow as leaders. 

So what is feedback culture? And why do leaders need to create it? 

Feedback Culture: Rooted in Candid Communication

Having a feedback culture in your organization rests on a very important foundation: frequent, two-way, honest and candid communication.

When a regular cadence of authentic and honest feedback is implemented, employees are empowered to give feedback, regardless of organizational hierarchy.

So why does it often prove so hard?

The Feedback Struggle is Real

Organizations and managers struggle with feedback for a variety of reasons; but the ones we see most often include:

  • Ambiguity On Feedback Outcomes: The result of giving feedback is potentially scary or uncertain and, therefore, leaders, employees and managers avoid it altogether.
  • Lack of Structure or Resources: There is no formal process for collecting or garnering feedback, making it difficult to know when and where feedback is appropriate.

Leaders Set the Tone

Feedback also improves employee engagement, a huge indicator of how vital a company’s culture—and future success—will be. High employee engagement means higher morale and therefore productivity and achievement. Everyone wins.

In fact, 88 percent of employees believe a strong company culture is what will make the business successful. And 94 percent of executives agree.*

Leaders set the tone for how feedback is given and received and must show a level of compassion and vulnerability in communication throughout the organization.

The First Step is Asking for Help

We love to help leaders lead—and implementing an open environment of candid communication and collaboration, where two-way feedback is welcomed, is an important step.

The second step is having critical conversations in a timely manner, meaning, before there is a problem. 

The third and most important step is scaling the skills and tools across the organization to successfully have ongoing feedback conversations.

ORCA’s Engagement Report from TTI helps leaders understand themselves, and others, and make the most of the relationships that affect them in the workplace. It gives people a language for having difficult conversations, greater awareness of themselves, and a structured opportunity to give and receive feedback.

We are providing a shortened 4-page version of the new Engagement Report as a complimentary resource for leaders. You can take the assessment and get your complimentary report through the link below.  

Want a customized solution for implementing feedback culture in your organization and give people the skills to have healthy conversation?  Contact us today. 

The Rise of Employee Burnout and How ORCA’s New Engagement Report Can Help

In the new year, many of us have a renewed sense of hope and purpose, even though we still face challenges. 

As we talk to more and more leaders in the technology space, such as CHROs and Chief People Officers, their primary concern is the rise in employee burnout. 

What many of these leaders don’t know is that the risk of employee burnout is not just about working long hours. 

According to Gallup, when employees are inspired, motivated, and supported, they do more work with less stress. 

The question then becomes how do we keep employees inspired, motivated, and supported?

What is the cause of employee burnout? 

I’m sure each of us could name a laundry list of reasons, especially in a post-COVID world. We aren’t taking time off to get a needed reboot; there are home, work and social stressors; and communication can be more difficult in a remote environment. 

However, according to a recent study1, there are six main stressors that lead to burnout:

  • Overwhelming external shocks, compounded by workload. 
  • Feelings of isolation and lack of psychological safety. 
  • Unsupportive workplace culture. 
  • Existential crises and a lack of purpose.
  • Over-invested identity.
  • Gender-, racial- and age-based discrimination.

The cost of burnout for organizations represent significant loss in revenue, increased rate of talent attrition and loss of team and workplace culture. 

What can leaders do?

Communication and engagement are positively correlated, and can help create a stress-free environment. As a leader within your organization, you have the power to better engage your employees (and yourself) at work. Yet, just as the stressors that cause burnout are different for each employee, the way we engage employees is based on their unique style and personality. Therefore, how we inspire, motivate and support are different for each person, making blanket solutions difficult. 

TTI Engagement ReportWhat is the Engagement Report? 

This is where TTI Success Insights new Engagement Report can help. The assessment is meant to understand how to engage and reboard your employees and leaders, increasing employee wellness. The report combines DISC and the 12 Driving Forces to reveal the “how” and “why” of human behavior.  

The most exciting feature in TTI’s new Engagement Report is its easy-to-understand and shareable nature. The report now has updated statements, new words for each behavior in DISC, and new descriptors to increase understanding. My favorite page of the full 8-page report is the Communication Do’s and Don’ts which can be shared with your colleagues, teams, managers and leaders so they know how to best connect with you.  

(In order to provide important resources to leaders, we are providing a shortened 4-page engagement report to all those who are interested! Try it out here.) 

What are the benefits?

As an HR leader, the assessment can help to:

  1. Increase self-awareness in employees 
  2. Open the channel of communication and feedback between employees and managers 
  3. Give you the opportunity to reboard (and reboot) your staff 
  4. Better understand what engagement initiatives would work best in your organization  

The Engagement Report is just the beginning. Once you understand how your employees, teams and leaders need to be motivated, supported, and inspired, it’s time to get to work through leadership programs and initiatives. 

Take the first step and try out a shortened version of TTI’s new Engagement Report, as a complimentary resource from ORCA HR. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the Engagement Report, check out this blog from TTI Success Insights.

Need help finding customized solutions for your leadership needs? Contact us today for a free consultation. 

—————

 1Study by Jonny Miller (Curious Humans) & Jan Chipchase (Studio D) 

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10 Tips for Successfully Working from Home with Your New “Colleagues”

Most of us are working at home with a new set of colleagues. My newest work colleague is a teenager, who has lost the normal daily structures of High School. He is not very happy with this or this new working environment. This provides its own set of challenges as we learn to work together.

Others of you might have a younger set of new colleagues who are even more demanding, and less understanding of the new working arrangements. You might also be competing for workspace with a partner who is now your new work colleague.

10 TIPS WHEN WORKING FROM HOME AND A FREE TOOL TO SUPPORT YOU

1.     Have a routine and structure for your day while still being flexible with this new environment/situation.

2.     Set clear boundaries with friends, family, and even pets to avoid possibly procrastinating tough challenges.

3.     If you are at home with children, find time to connect! It is different when they are in school given the distance and out of sight out of mind, but now that everyone is in the same space, new norms need to be established. Spending 10-20-30 quality minutes during the day will pay dividends.

4.     It is easy to get distracted or be tempted to log more hours from a remote location in the support of the team — remember to manage your own energy and take some time for yourself.

5.     Set expectations around the time you will be working – a clear beginning and end time?

6.     If you are having a challenge, ensure you communicate with your leader or a peer to seek solutions. Ask questions on things you are unsure about via online chat or email.

7.     Move regularly throughout your day. Don’t forget to stand up and make sure you add regular breaks into your normal daily routine.

8.     Communicate with family and friends using an online chat tool with your colleagues more frequently than normal to avoid a feeling of isolation. We need people more than ever right now.

9.     Don’t shy away from challenging assignments; simply ask for help if you need it.

10.   Be aware that living in these uncertain times can create uncertainty and anxiety, (See our LinkedIn post) https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/leading-times-anxiety-uncertainty-paul-o-beirne/)

If you’re having a hard time transitioning to #WorkingFromHomeLife, you’re not alone. The good news is that we have great tool to share with you and your colleagues to make communication easier. Please take advantage of our gift from TTI and ORCA HR Solutions of a Free Working from Home Report . https://www.ttisurvey.com/391683VRF  This is based on our most popular DISC Behavioral Report. This takes no more than 10 minutes complete and will give you insights into your own behaviors and some tips of how to work with your family and colleagues.

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Engage your People with Caring Conversations

As I reflect on my previous role as a Microsoft Global HR leader. I have been wondering how I would have navigated a similar moment in history and what challenges I would have faced in that role. What support could I offer my teams as an HR leader and as a business leader as we enter an unprecedented period of uncertainty and upheaval?

Over 80% of the U.S. is being asked to stay at home and some countries, like Italy, are in 100% lock-down. I want to pay my respects and gratitude to people working in essential roles, especially the medical teams on the front lines of support for COVID-19 patients. 

 Since so many are working from home, I have received dozens of emails about virtual meetings and information on how to use technology to support people during crisis. A range of technologies help us communicate when we are physically distanced; however, we need to ensure that our people feel supported through genuine human connection. 

What conversations are you having that connect personally to each of your employees at this time?  How do you show you care?

We must reach out with compassion and empathy. How do you empathize and “step outside your emotions to view something from the perspective of the other person”? To help you gain a wider perspective on what your teams are feeling and experiencing, consider the following questions/tactics:  

  • Reach out to listen with empathy about what is going on in their lives at this moment and how can you provide support 
  •  Ask them what transitions are they going through personally and how can you support them through this. Some people will be feeling a sense of grief from intense change.  
  • Let them know we are all in this together and you don’t have all the answers  
  • Ensure they feel empowered and trusted to take care of their work and schedules 
  • Engage them in conversations, creating the space to come up with innovative ideas 
  • Ask how you can help them move forward through uncertainty 
  • Ask how you can set up a great virtual environment, and provide them with some best practices? 
  •  Be transparent about the work situation and what you know and don’t know 

In the past few weeks, I have read and spoke to a few leaders who are doing great things to support their people. Others have not yet taking action. Where do you stand?  

Some leaders are intentional in their support and some are innovative, offering virtual beer afternoons, coffee breaks online, mental health breaks, mindfulness classes, book clubs from home, reach-outs to help others in need, and many more great ideas. 

I would love to hear from you if you would like to share what are you doing to support your people and what innovative ideas are emerging in your world.    

To help you facilitate support for your teams, we offer a virtual workshop and webinar. 

“Leading in Times of Anxiety and Uncertainty Virtual Workshop”  

  • Helping my myself to help others:  Using Emotional Intelligence tools to understand what is happening to me in times of uncertainty.
  • Empathy and Conversations that build connections :  How I can understand what others are feeling and experiencing. How I can create conversations that build trust and strengthen relationships
  • Supporting my people through turbulent times:  Practical exercises and frameworks that I can use to support myself and my teams 

Contact us at info@orcahrsolutions.com

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Leading in Times of Anxiety and Uncertainty

To support their teams through uncertain times, effective leaders reflect first on their internal world and personal awareness. By understanding themselves better, leaders can apply that knowledge to navigate the external world and offer relevant guidance and aid to others.

Facing uncertainty, we may find that our bodies feel tense and we cannot channel our energies on forward movement. We are frozen by the fear and anxiety surrounding us. On an instinctual level, our brains first stop and assess our environment for safety and danger. This reaction is perfectly normal as our nervous system has entered a “threat state”. To read more information about this natural neurological reaction, see the footnote below describing the SCARF model*.

Reacting to threatening experiences, our bodies release cortisol, the fear hormone, with dire long-term consequences for our health. Positive experiences trigger the release of dopamine, a hormone that contributes to confidence and higher performance.

An average of three positive experiences dilutes one comparable negative experience because cortisol is three times more powerful than dopamine. To reduce your stress level, engage in as many positive experiences as you can to boost your beneficial dopamine levels.

As a leader, proactively taking steps to support your people  creates more positive experiences in this time of high anxiety and uncertainty.

  1. Start with yourself and be aware of how you are feeling about the current situation.
  2. Practice self-regulation in moments of high stress.
  3. Reach out to others. Ask people how they are feeling. Actively listen. Connect. Everyone needs more support and social connection at this time.
  4. Set up a meeting with your team with no agenda. Gather your team and ask each person to share what is happening if they would like.
  5. Ask your team regularly about how you can best support them as circumstances change rapidly.
  6. Share these 10 steps with your group.

Below is a checklist of 10 immediate actions to take yourself, and share with your team to increase their positive experiences and decrease their stress.

  1. Be mindful – Recognize and acknowledge your thoughts and emotions at this moment. Be aware of tension in your body. Name your feelings. To improve your self-awareness, you can ask yourself:
    1. What am I experiencing right now? How am I experiencing that in my body? Be specific about naming thoughts and feelings. My mind fills with fearful thoughts. My throat feels tight. Pressure weighs on my chest. My jaw clenches when I’m anxious.
      • Name your emotions specifically – e.g fear, sadness, guilt, anger or frustration?
      • Why am I experiencing these emotions? Validate what you’re feeling as useful information to move forward.
    2. What are some of the reasons I feel this way? What can I control? What is out of my hands?
    3. How do these emotions impact me and my ability to perform or move forward?
    4. What small step can I take to improve the situation?
  2. Take action today on what you can control: Prioritize action on what moves you forward rather than focus on all the things you cannot control.
  3. Connect with others: We are social beings; our community helps us feel safe. Reach out to people by phone or video, connect with friends and family, following social distance guidelines.
  4. Engage in what refuels you; What can you do to refuel or recharge your energy? Practicing mindfulness or meditation can be very helpful in these uncertain times.
  5. Move your body: Exercise to relax, and stimulate your brain’s production of endorphins, the chemicals that act as the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.
  6. Experience nature:  Evidence shows that spending time in nature creates many measurable beneficial changes in the body and the mind.
  7. Talk to a trusted friend or family member about how you are feeling. Talking out loud about your fears and anxieties can reduce your stress level. If you’re feeling really stuck, talk to a mental health professional or coach.
  8. Create a routine for your day: Since many of us are working from home, without the predictable structure of the work environment, it is normal to feel a bit lost, or out of sorts. Build a daily structure that supports you and helps you deal with the uncertainty still to come.
  9. Pause: If possible, slow down on making major decisions. Be aware that emotions precede actions and you may not make the best decision when you’re feeling stressed. Fear and anxiety can have a deep subconscious effect on our ultimate decision in a given situation. A negative emotional reaction may cause a disregard of facts or data that that logically support a certain decision. Pause and revisit the decision when your mind and body are in a less threatened state.
  10. Help others: Reach out to people who may need support. There is scientific evidence that when we focus on doing something good for others, the act of kindness causes our brain to release dopamine, increasing own our happiness and calming our minds. If you can activate yourself or your community without putting yourself at risk, do so.

If you need support putting these steps into action, please contact us for a free 15-minute consultation. We have tools and methodologies to support you through these uncertain times.

Additional Information

*David Rock, NeuroLeadership Institute, refers to the SCARF Model*that describes the five domains of human social experience: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness.

  • Status defines relative importance to others.
  • Certainty concerns our ability to predict the future
  • Autonomy provides a sense of control over event
  • Relatedness describes our sense of safety with others. Friend or foe?
  • Fairness depicts the perception of open-minded exchanges between people.

These five domains activate either the ‘primary reward’ or ‘primary threat’ circuitry (and associated networks) of the brain. A perceived threat to one’s status activates similar brain networks that respond to a threat to one’s life. In the same way, a perceived increase in fairness activates the same reward circuitry as receiving a monetary reward.

The model enables people to more easily remember, recognize, and potentially modify the core social domains that drive human behavior. In normal circumstances, the brain assesses our environment for safety and danger. However, in the current state of the world with the Covid19 crisis, we are experiencing additional stress:

  • We cannot personally control the global reaction to the Coronavirus
  • There is uncertainty about how and when the situation will resolve
  • In the immediate future, our autonomy as an individual has been severely impacted.

In addition to this our need for personal connection to others and relationships are being impacted. We respond neurologically to these challenging situations as if there has been a threat to our life. Frightening experiences produce more stress hormones, like cortisol over time. If we can’t reduce our stress levels, the following can occur:

  • Decreased cognitive performance
  • Decreased oxygen available for critical brain functions
  • Tendency to overgeneralize
  • Defensive responses
  • Exaggerated reactions to small stressors
  • Heightened agitation
  • The tendency to dwell on previous negative experiences
  • Struggle to get along with others