New strategies and processes can be mandated and handed down in a matter of days, but a culture change requires a deeper level of integration to truly take hold. You don’t want your employees to simply receive orders and comply. For a culture change to stick the habits you form have to become second nature. An employee at Greenpeace wouldn’t think twice about recycling their can of soda after lunch. What you want is to also achieve a level at which employees don’t have to think twice about giving feedback when it’s needed and, most importantly, have the tools they need to do it. So what do you need to do to start the culture change?
1. Get buy-in from executive level
It’s essential that you clearly explain the benefits and need for more feedback in your company to the executive level. Even if your HR department has more freedom to make decisions regarding people management, your CEO needs to become a key advocate for the process. Make sure your executive level understands the deeper reasons why this shift is important and remember to keep in mind the factors that will motivate them to introduce a new process.
There are two ways your executive level can demonstrate their complete endorsement for the new process and kick off the transition. First, they should make a public announcement introducing the new process and why they think it will help your company in particular. This can either be in the form of a speech at your next company wide meeting or a mass e-mail. Second, your company values reflect the behaviors and attitudes that make your company a great place to work. Institutionalize your commitment to creating an open feedback culture by including it in your company’s values.
2. Recruit culture promoters
The transition doesn’t stop there. Getting buy-in from managers may actually be even more important to the process than getting it from the executive level. Your managers have a much more direct influence on your employees and as such their commitment will make or break the process at the team level. It may be difficult at first to get them all on board with the idea of real-time feedback, especially if they’re not used to getting upward feedback from their reports. Initially, you need to recruit a number of key influencers who will help spread the word. Once enough leaders have adopted the process you’ll see a major tipping point in which people accept the change.
3. What about employees?
Don’t forget your employees. In the end what you actually want is to create an employee driven feedback process. If it feels like the change is pressured by upper levels, your people are less likely to adopt it themselves. To create a stronger sense of ownership from the outset, include them in the process. Conduct a survey about your previous performance review process. What did they like or not like about it? What would they change? Take these answers and infuse it into your new process. Do they feel like they need more face time with their managers? Emphasize the importance of 1-on-1s after the review, and on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. The more you demonstrate how feedback will benefit them, the easier it’ll be to introduce your company’s new culture. For more information on how to start a culture change download our free white paper.
This article is part of a guide for HR about how to create a feedback culture.
HR Manager Handbook: Setting-up a feedback culture