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How to foster a feedback culture

May 28, 2024

How to foster a feedback culture brings up a mere 115 million results. It’s a topic a lot of us People folk are looking for answers around and yet it’s something not many organisations have truly mastered.  If you’re looking for ways to foster more of a feedback culture in your organisation we have a few tips to get you started.

1. You are not the problem. Or the solution

Fostering a feedback culture is not a People or HR problem to solve, it’s an organisational challenge (or opportunity, if you want to frame it positively!). Unless your leadership team is onboard, put their money where their mouth is and sign up to improve how they give and receive feedback personally, you’re facing a losing battle. For a feedback culture to truly exist it needs to be embedded at every level in the organisation and integrated into your ways of working. Starting at the very top. 

A feedback culture looks like this...

2. Stop trying to become “radically candid” as an organisation

We could count on one hand the number of organisations we’ve seen who have actually embedded radical candour for what it’s designed for: direct feedback delivered with genuine care. What we see far more frequently is radical candour used as an excuse for poorly designed, poorly delivered direct feedback. Shitty boss territory that Kim Scott herself described as the “asshole quadrant” in her framework. See our post about Radical Candor for an alternative to that model you could consider. 

When asked to lead on fostering a “radically candid” feedback culture, our challenge is to pop that coaching hat on and ask:

  • What does a radical candour look like for us as an organisation? 
  • What are you seeing right now that makes this a priority for you?
  • What specifically do you want people to do differently compared to today?
  • How will we know we’ve achieved our goals? What’s our measure of success?
  • What impact will that have on our culture and how people feel?

Once you’ve been able to really define what the leadership team is actually after you can start to put together your strategy on how you’ll, collaboratively, work towards a feedback culture. 

3. Get some feedback

Yep, to help you foster a feedback culture you need to get some feedback! Once you’ve defined what success looks like, you need to gather some data to help you understand your current reality. What do the people on the ground see? How does feedback look and feel at different levels in the organisation and across different teams. Use your data set to help you understand the gap between where you’re hoping to get to and where you’re at today. 

Our advice? Use the answers your leadership team gave you to your curious questions, along with some more provocative questions to get a true feel for what’s going on. Here’s a few to get you thinking. We recommend a 10 point scale:

  1. We’ve defined our feedback culture as “[insert answer]”. How well do you feel we deliver against this statement today?
  2. How well does the leadership team demonstrate the behaviours needed to foster a culture where [insert what you defined your feedback culture as]?
  3. How comfortable do you feel giving your peers feedback?
  4. How comfortable do you feel giving your manager, or someone more senior to you, feedback about their performance or behaviours?
  5. How much support do you feel you have, in terms of training and resources, for you to give difficult feedback?

4. Put the onus back on your leadership team

We’re back to your leadership team. They play a crucial role in setting the tone for a feedback culture. When they openly give and receive feedback, it sets a precedent for the entire organisation. Hold your leaders accountable for:

  • Actively soliciting feedback from their team and colleagues
  • Demonstrating how they implement the feedback they receive
  • Providing both positive and constructive feedback regularly

By normalising feedback at a senior leadership level, the rest of the organisation will feel more comfortable engaging in these practices too. Remember, if you want to create an avalanche, you have to start at the top of the mountain (not the bottom).

5. Flex your wallet. Well, the company’s

We get it - learning budgets are consistently being cut and we’re given the challenge of transforming behaviours and organisational culture with a rather frugal budget. Whilst none of us have the luxury of a limitless budget, here are some things that frankly - in our humble opinion - are a waste of money (and time):

  1. Webinars: low cost, low impact. Admittedly, they’re easy to scale. Someone might pick up a handy framework but they won’t create behavioural change. And when you’re talking about difficult conversations, behavioural change is needed!
  1. Lunch and learn: low cost, low impact. A 60 minute session with 30 people dialled in is for all intents and purposes, a webinar with a question or two thrown back out to the group. Cheap and cheerful is usually just that - it ticks a box and “does a job”, but does it do the job well?

If you really want to create cultural transformation you need to invest it in and equip people with the tools AND confidence. That means creating safe learning environments for people to ask questions, debate, challenge and give things a go. Small groups are often the way forward so our primary recommendation is always facilitating workshops with no more than 16 people (ideally 8-12). 

If that’s simply not an option, consider dovetailing one of the first two options with group coaching sessions, either facilitated with an external provider or asking leaders to facilitate the sessions with their teams (but remember to train them first!).

Whatever approach you choose to take, follow up with resources and signpost to any internal guides you have for people to access anytime. And remember - with any investment you’re looking for a return. Quick and dirty rarely yields lasting results.

Did we mention that we provide a half day workshop on feedback training?

Coachable Feedback Masterclass Overview

6. Focus on psychological safety. Prioritise it

Psychological safety isn’t a nice to have, it’s an essential part of any successful team. For your feedback culture to thrive, people need to feel safe, supported and respected. This involves:

  • Ensuring confidentiality: Feedback should be given and received in a manner that respects privacy and encourages honesty
  • Promoting psychological safety: People should feel assured that their feedback will not lead to negative consequences or retaliation
  • Encouraging open communication: Regularly invite feedback and make it clear that all input is valued

7. Get rid of your resting bitch face

Yikes, did we say that out loud?! Sorry, what we meant to say was get rid of that unapproving facial expression that shouts “I’m about to be defensive” when someone gives you a difficult piece of feedback.

The most crucial aspect of fostering a feedback culture is to be open to all feedback - and act on it. People need to see that their feedback leads to tangible changes. This involves:

  • Thanking people for their feedback, even if it stings when you hear it
  • Regulating any facial expressions that are likely to make the other person retreat to fight or flight mode themselves
  • Follow up on feedback. Make sure you let them know you’ve taken their feedback on board and share any changes you’ve made
  • Communicate outcomes. Don’t be afraid to air some of your dirty laundry. Your vulnerability in being open with what feedback you’ve had, and how it’s helped you, is one of the best ways to encourage others to do the same.

When people see that their feedback leads to real results, they are more likely to engage in the process. The more this happens, the more everyone will play their role, both in giving and receiving feedback.


Remember - fostering a feedback culture takes time, commitment and energy. But simple, consistent changes are a sure way to help you take leaps in the right direction. Focus on informal feedback loops to truly embed it into the everyday culture of your organisation.

We hope you’ve found this helpful; do let us know how you get on. 

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