Company Culture

How to Build a Feedback Culture when Working Remotely

Feedback is even more important when working remotely, but also so much easier to forget. If managers don’t see their team everyday, feedback and coaching can be easily overlooked. Don’t assume no news is good news.


Without being able to gauge the facial expressions and body language of your team, creating an engaging team environment requires feedback even more than ever. Build a great feedback culture, even when your team is working across the globe, with these tips:

1. Set up a standard time for 1-on-1s


Have you ever wanted to ask your manager what they thought about your last project? You sat there typing, deleting, typing and then finally abandoning the idea and leaving it up to them to tell you if there's a problem.


People may want feedback but may be unsure when to ask for it. If you can’t see when someone is going for a coffee break, you won’t know when they’re available. Help employees overcome this barrier by setting up standard 1-on-1 sessions.


At Zapier, a company made up completely of remote workers, they scheduled monthly virtual 1-on-1s during which managers ask their reports four standard questions:


  • What's one thing you're excited about?

  • What's one thing you're worried about?

  • What's one thing I can do better to help you with your job?

  • What's one thing you can do better to improve at your job?


They explain that the consistency in questions makes it easy to prepare and track important changes in team engagement over time. 

Read more about how to have great virtual 1-on-1s here

2. Create a positive feedback habit


Positive feedback is a great motivator and essential for building team spirit. Not being in the same environment physically doesn’t mean you can’t create a virtual environment in which your team can feel connected. Make sure to give your virtual team members positive feedback regularly and encourage peers to celebrate successes, even online.


At Impraise, we created a habit of sharing praise with each other by making it quick, easy, and public. To do this we created a Slack integration which allows our team to share positive feedback on a dedictaed Slack channel by simply typing:


/praise @(recipient’s slack name)


What we noticed was that the more people received praise notifications on Slack, the more likely they were to share praise with others. This helped us to increase positive feedback throughout the company exponentially. 

Read more about how we made praise a habit here

3. Teach your team how to word their feedback 


Getting a message from your teammate saying, "You need to learn how to be more open to changing direction," can be taken in so many ways.


Without being able to see facial expressions and body language it's hard to gauge the feeling behind this feedback. Likewise, without providing context and the right amount of details, your teammate's feedback doesn't provide enough information to come up with concrete next steps.


In the end, this kind of feedback is more likely to end in a virtual exchange of passive aggressive comments. No one wins.  


Just because your people are remote doesn’t mean they shouldn’t also receive training on how to give and receive feedback. In fact, in this kind of team it’s even more important. Not being present in an office means that two people could have an argument via slack and their manager may never know. It’s especially important that remote teams learn how to use the right language when sharing feedback with each other.


We may not realize it, but facial expressions and body language have a far deeper impact on our understanding than we realize. Make sure your team has the tools they need to communicate their message effectively, avoiding potential misunderstandings and conflict. 

4. Set up regular 360-degree feedback moments


Once your team is comfortable with these tips for sharing great feedback it's important that you actually encourage them to share feedback with each other regularly. Poor communication is one of the easiest pitfalls that can cause the downfall of a remote team.


Whether it's a failure to address potential problems ahead of time or knowledge within the team which, if shared, could have saved someone a lot of frustration and time, communication is key to creating an effective team.


Impraise allows you to schedule recurring 360-degree reviews focused on helping your team members develop and grow. Whether on a quarterly cycle or a biweekly Sprint, timing is flexible and can be adjusted to fit the way your team works. 


On Friday August 3rd we'll be participating in Global Work Remote Day 2018 with our awesome customer Bynder.


Check out this video to learn more about Bynder's great work culture: