How to Build a Strong Feedback Culture in Your Team

Aleksi Saastamoinen
Updated Mar 23, 2024
8 min read

Do feedback sessions make you extra stressful as a leader or do you look forward to those moments?

Although a feedback culture is critical for a company’s growth, many still rely on old and outdated strategies which consist of irregular and rare feedback, if any. 

This can happen because feedback is not prioritized amidst the pressures of everyday work life. Or because leaders fear their employees’ reaction to the feedback. Either way, feedback is essential and directly impacts your team’s motivation, engagement and productivity.

But how do you transform irregular, detached feedback sessions into an organized feedback culture that pushes growth and innovation?

How Feedback Affects The Brain

Feedback isn't simply a random event — it's a primary component of a functioning work ecosystem. Yet, when feedback remains an irregularity rather than an integral part of our daily routines, it triggers an interesting response within our brains.

What do I mean by that? – Let me expand.

Biologically, our brain's response to unexpected feedback mirrors its reaction to an unexpected threat. This triggers stress hormones, causing an emotional and cognitive struggle. The sudden feedback, rather than being recognized as constructive, is seen as a potential danger, leading to a defensive or even hostile response.

Understanding this principle is important to know the reason you should implement regular, pre-announced feedback sessions.

Integrate Feedback Into Your Daily Workflow

There are two main types of feedback. Let’s see some characteristics of detached feedback and integrated feedback.

Detached feedback is characterized by its untimely delivery in occasional 1:1 sessions or as a reactive response to unexpected issues. It holds back its effectiveness by arriving when it's too late to activate meaningful change. This type of feedback often arrives after the crucial moment for intervention has passed.

By focusing primarily on past mistakes, detached feedback looks at what went wrong rather than developing a forward-thinking mindset looking toward improvement and growth.

Integrated feedback is effortlessly constructed into the workflow at strategic stages. It offers a more proactive and empowering approach. Well-timed insights are the norm with integrated feedback, as leaders have sessions just before getting started on tasks and right before the task is completed. 

Thus, integrated feedback pushes an environment where improvement becomes an ongoing process instead of a reactive response to past failures. 

This approach supports a strong feedback culture centred on growth, encouraging continuous learning and refinement.

4-Step Formula to Integrate Feedback Culture into Your Daily Workflow

Integrating weekly feedback into your workflow is critical to ensure great outcomes and employee growth.

Here is how you can start building a feedback culture:

Set the Structure Without Micromanaging the Details

When you are planning your workflow, you should focus on the broader structure of tasks rather than micromanaging the details. By putting together the overall framework without diving into details, you create a clear roadmap for your teams.

This approach allows for flexibility in task execution while outlining key points for combining feedback seamlessly into the workflow. In addition, you, as the leader, are responsible for recognizing the areas where there can be improvements based on feedback insights.

As a result, teams operate within a structured yet adaptable environment, adopting a culture where feedback naturally becomes an integral part of continual improvement and growth.

Set Feedback Checkpoints

Strategic feedback checkpoints need to be placed before task initiation and just prior to its completion. This optimizes the effect on development while minimizing your team’s workflow distractions.

These crucial stages act as ideal moments for providing guidance and feedback, guaranteeing that improvements can be implemented effectively. By creating a feedback culture, where you place feedback sessions before and after work phases, teams can enhance their performance without interrupting their productive efforts.

Also, you should time your feedback to match a crucial state of a project. This happens by being involved with the project and creating an environment where feedback is a part of the task. Giving feedback in the beginning of the project, after certain stages and ultimately before the work is released is a good way to implement a strong feedback culture.

Involve Your Team in Pre-work Feedback

Encouraging your team members to outline their suggested solutions before starting tasks allows you to provide constructive guidance, creating a plan for success.

This approach to delegating your tasks with clarity ensures alignment and increases the likelihood of achieving the desired outcome efficiently.

Give Feedback Before It Reaches the Client

Providing deeper post-work feedback involves offering insights on the final output before it's released, ensuring its quality before the work reaches the audience. This precision in feedback just before release plays a crucial role in maintaining high standards and encouraging constant improvement within the team.

By fine-tuning the final work, your team ensures that their output meets expectations and contributes to ongoing improvement.

Using these steps to build your feedback culture ensures that in your company feedback is a normal part of your workflow instead of being a scary, suddenly appearing monster.

Common Challenges When Building a Feedback Culture

Besides setting your mind around how you can integrate feedback into your workflow, it is equally essential to acknowledge that the way you receive and give feedback can set the tone for how your team integrates and looks forward to the feedback sessions.

Although giving and receiving feedback can theoretically seem easy, they are a form of art leaders often struggle with.

Knowing how to give feedback

Leaders often find it challenging to give feedback in a way that is well-perceived. Either they tend to talk too much, or be perceived as too harsh, or even leave important details out to sugar-coat the truth.

According to Kim Scott, former Google and Apple executive, your feedback should always be kind and clear, while being specific and sincere. She created a framework to help leaders give great feedback: The Radical Candor.

The idea behind it is that leaders should show their team they are there to support them, while at the same time assertively expressing what is falling short and how they can improve. Here are a few of Kim Scotts tips:

Knowing how to receive feedback

The way you react to your employees’ feedback impacts the trust they put in you, as well as the tone of your future relationship. To build a strong feedback culture, you need to be as open to receiving feedback, as your team should be. Remember you are the leader, it is on you to set the example.

Matt Mochary created a framework that can help you navigate through the discomfort of receiving feedback as a leader. He bases his approach in 5 As:

  1. Ask for it. Take the last 5-10 of your team meeting or do it in 1:1 session, the important thing is that you proactively ask your team to give you feedback. And, settle for the “everything is fine”. Remember, you too should be looking to improve.

  2. Acknowledge it. Listen to what your employees have to say, and deliver the message back to them to make sure you understood it right.

  3. Appreciate it. Thank your team for the feedback they shared with you.

  4. Accept it. Keep an open mind and have the courage to look into your hidden corners.

  5. Act on it. Make a plan of action to act on the feedback that makes sense to you. Set a date and commit.

Foster Improvement with Qualified Critics

Another important step you can consider is fostering feedback within the team. Leaders often overlook the impact of Qualified Critics - At Workjoy, we have become fans of this approach. 

The more you build the mindset that your individual efforts are part of something bigger, something you collectively want to accomplish, the easier it will be to create a feedback culture where team members often seek each other's feedback to improve their work.

Instead of always seeking praise, the idea is to seek for improvement.

As Nick Saban, US college football coach, says: “Average players want to be left alone. Good players want to be coached. Great players want the coach to tell them the truth.

So, how do you know who to turn to for qualified criticism? 

If the person you want to turn to has these characteristics, then go all in because you found yourself a Qualified Critic who can help you grow and do your best work.


Using this feedback integration framework provides a flexible structure to seamlessly use feedback as a tool in team collaboration, pushing continuous improvement.

Creating a strong feedback culture isn't about irregular criticism; it's about developing a continuous improvement mindset aligned with your team's workflow.

Creating a feedback culture involves the strategic integration of feedback. The defined timing enables the leader to create an environment where feedback is not merely accepted but actively pursued.

As a leader, you should not focus on minor details but rather on the bigger picture and create a feedback framework.

Let's focus on creating a feedback culture where insights are encouraged for improvement instead of being seen as a scary emergency.

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