Feedback in the Workplace

The Importance Of Creating A Workplace Where People Feel Safe To Give And Receive Feedback

The key to being able to give and receive effective feedback is to create a psychologically safe environment at work where people feel accepted and respected. Amy Edmondson (Harvard University) describes a psychologically safe environment as “one exuding a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up”.

It takes courage to speak up and be honest in your feedback. It requires both parties to self-disclose and to give honest feedback. The passive approach or avoidance approach is indirect and leaves the other person guessing what you really think and what you want from them. Being soft on people and soft on the issue avoids the issues and creates frustration and a lack of trust. By creating an environment where people feel safe to ask questions, you can take your leadership to the next level.

Research has found that psychological safety in the workplace is the key predictor of team success. How can we increase the psychological safety in your workplace? It is important to think about where you are going to give or receive feedback. Here are some key thoughts to help you with increasing the level of psychological safety.

  1. Consider your Room Set Up
  • Have the room set up so that you can sit alongside the person rather than directly across from them.
  • Move away from your computer screen and avoid sitting behind your desk
  • Set the tone of the meeting by turning your phone off so that you are not interrupted.
  • This demonstrates to the other person that this meeting is important and  that you want to focus on them
  • If it is appropriate, you may chose a neutral venue, away from your office
  1. Consider Timing and When To Have The Discussion
  • Avoid meeting when either party is under pressure or feeling anxious as they will not be able to hear the information as well as they need.
  • Ensure that both parties have time to prepare for the meeting so that they are both feeling confident and relaxed. This will help to bring the best out in both parties
  • If one of the parties becomes frustrated then take a break. This enables both parties to calm down.
  • It is important to set aside enough time so that we can be present and listen to the other person’s perspective.
  1. Other Considerations
  • For people to feel safe we first need to build rapport. We can do this by being empathic, having an open mindset and avoiding judgement
  • It important to be aware of your Non-verbal communication and using open and approachable gestures.
  • Avoid closed gestures such as crossed arms and arms on hips

If you want to increase your effectiveness when giving feedback then you need to create a psychologically safe environment at work where people feel accepted and respected.

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