One of the main reasons I joined Credera over a year ago is the culture of feedback. At the time, I could only witness the formal feedback process put in place by Credera’s leadership. I have since learned that informal feedback between peers is just as important.
Every six months, all employees at Credera go through a process called Career Performance Management (CPM) that includes a self-evaluation and an evaluation by your mentors and peers. While I understand how the logistics of these types of processes can rub some people the wrong way, I am overall a huge proponent of this process. It is an honest look at your performance with both positive and negative criticism and actionable items to use for self-improvement.
These official reviews, governed by the leaders of the company, are the top-down portion of the feedback culture at Credera. The questions, rules, and processes set the expectations for life at Credera, and they feed directly into what I call the “bottom-up” portion of our culture: informal, day-to-day interactions between peers.
A few weeks ago, I experienced a great tangible example of this informal side of Credera’s feedback culture when a coworker, Bernard Buentipo, reached out and offered some simple affirmation. He sent me a personal message that, in effect, relayed to me that he had heard positive reviews of some work I had recently done for a client. He has developed a habit that when he hears something positive about coworkers and they are not in the room to hear it, he relays the feedback to those people.
One of my closest friends from college had a similar practice. When I would offer criticism of another person to him, positive or negative, he would respond simply with “Tell them that!” This idea of redirecting our feedback to the person that needs to hear it is so simple, yet somehow so overlooked.
For those committed to maintaining a culture of feedback, the combination of the formal and informal creates a sustaining cycle. The expectations and guidelines written in the CPM provide a framework for the formal process and a language for informal interactions. In return, if informal feedback is given frequently and honestly, few people are surprised by the official evaluations.
I’ll add a warning that a feedback culture is not something that happens automatically, even with the right tools, frameworks, and questions. Giving honest, specific feedback is time consuming for both the sender and the receiver. Being vulnerable takes practice and courage. But when it is done right, I have seen people experience a sense of security and fulfillment in their work.
Looking for more details? Check out this paper from the Harvard Business Review, “Building a Feedback-Rich Culture.”
Whether you are looking to improve your feedback culture or maintain it, seek out feedback earnestly and offer it carefully and freely. And if you hear useful criticism of another individual, tell them that!