Podcast: Leadership Amplitude Episode 15

Create an organizational culture where feedback becomes a dynamic tool for success.

Solving the Feedback Problem

Ramonda Kyser and Dr. Edwin Mouriño join us at The BB&T Leadership Institute to talk about ways that we can start creating a culture where feedback becomes a successful organizational tool.


Anna Slaydon: Feedback is important, but if we're honest, it's hard to give and it's hard to receive. I don't know about you, but I get very, very nervous if someone offers to give me feedback, or if they just so much as shut the office door that we're standing in. But the reality is feedback is important, and we have to be able to give and receive it to have a healthy culture. Ramonda and Edwin join us again to talk to us about some easy ways that we can start creating a culture where feedback becomes a tool for organizational success.

Ramonda Kyser: The performance evaluation is that formal version of feedback. But what happens to all the informal opportunities for feedback?

Anna Slaydon:  Ah.

Ramonda Kyser: Where when—I have a really great story when it comes to feedback. And I try to show feedback and gratitude in lots of different ways. I was teaching a class about a few months ago, and I never, ever take my cell phone in a class. But for whatever reason this day, I had my cell phone, and I had it on silent, and it was turned face down. At the break, I turned the phone over and saw all these missed calls and text messages from my father and my sister. Well, my parents are 82 and 86.

Anna Slaydon: Uh-oh. Yeah.

Ramonda Kyser: Unfortunately, my mother was being rushed to the emergency room in an ambulance because she couldn't swallow or breathe.

Anna Slaydon: Oh, my goodness.

Ramonda Kyser: I couldn't focus on anything at that moment. It was a coworker who overheard me. She went downstairs, got two consultants who were here that day. They filled in the gap. I was so grateful. When I got back, I immediately showed them—I gave them positive feedback.

Anna Slaydon: Yeah.

Ramonda Kyser: It didn't have to be a sit-down meeting, but a simple thank you that was genuine and authentic went a long way with my two coworkers.

Anna Slaydon: Yeah. Is your mom okay?

Ramonda Kyser: Mom's fine. 

Anna Slaydon: Okay.

Ramonda Kyser: I can't keep that 82-year-old woman down. She is fine.

Anna Slaydon: [Laughter] You mentioned gratitude.

Ramonda Kyser: Yes.

Anna Slaydon: Tell me about gratitude.

Ramonda Kyser: So gratitude—well, first I'd like to talk about positive psychology, if I can.

Anna Slaydon: Yeah.

Ramonda Kyser: So positive psychology is this new theory in psychology that we're starting to weave into some of our work here at The BB&T Leadership Institute. And it's basically looking at our strengths. There's scientific proof that when we can look at our strengths and enable individuals to tap into that more, that we can really have a better experience in the workplace. There's a TED Talk that was done by Martin Seligman, who is the founder father of positive psychology. We'll make sure that we have that in the show notes linked.

Anna Slaydon: Absolutely.

Ramonda Kyser: But positive psychology is making sure that we're paying attention to broadening our positive emotions instead of looking for those threats with negative. Expressing and acknowledging gratitude are two main, broad categories. We have everyone in our program to do a gratitude journal. And if you've been through the five-day program, you hear on Monday people say, "Oh, this is so silly. Why are we focusing on something we're grateful for?"

But by the end of that week, not only are the things that they're grateful for deeper and richer that they describe, but they're also talking about how they have started to really pause themselves through the day, and find things that are important that they want to acknowledge that they're grateful for.

Anna Slaydon: And it sounds like in order to create a culture where feedback is encouraged and well-received, gratitude and leveraging those positive emotions is the way in which you create that positive feedback culture.

Ramonda Kyser: It's one of the ways. I want to share five strategies or tips with our listeners that maybe if they do a couple of these, they could create that culture.

The first one is honoring your employees' autonomy. Edwin, remember, you pointed out in that first podcast no one wants to be micromanaged. But we still find that we are micromanaged. An employee is going to do so much more for your organization if they feel that they are trusted. Well, how do you do that? You talk and you listen to them. When I don't feel like I'm being heard, I'm probably not going to trust you. I'm going to go through the motions. So we want to make sure that we're creating a culture that respects and honors the employees' autonomy.

The second one is bring wellness initiatives to the workplace. I'm happy that I work in a building that has a treadmill, kettle balls, and an elliptical. My body is probably going to help be appreciative of this in a couple of months. I just gotta use the stuff that we have. And, the culture needs to allow us to use it. So sometimes organizations say, "Well, we have a gym for our employees," but employees are afraid to go use it. Because then they don't want their manager to say, "Well, you could be working. Why are you down there for 30 minutes?" So, it goes both ways. You provide it, but you gotta let people use it.

Anna Slaydon: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Mouriño: Mm-hmm.

Ramonda Kyser: Encourage mentoring. Mentoring, coaching, those are important strategies to help somebody feel gratitude or positivity in the workplace. Peer-to-peer mentoring helps with social connection. It helps me problem solve with my peer that I might not feel comfortable problem solving with my manager about an issue. Learn from your failures. We've gotta learn from our failures. If we don't make mistakes, how do you grow?

Anna Slaydon: Mm-hmm.

Ramonda Kyser: And then lastly, embrace gratitude every day. I wish organizations would do more sharing of what they're grateful for and what they acknowledge that they're grateful for than what we actually do.

The last step is expressing or embracing everyday gratitude. It would be great if organizations could do a really good job of being intentional about expressing gratitude and expressing it continually and not just at these one-time events. At Christmas, we do a luncheon. Or at your birthday, we give you a card, but being very intentional and purposeful about expressing gratitude.

So, embracing everyday gratitude. We want to do more than just the Christmas social, the ice cream social, or whatnot, but do it intentionally and purposefully so that people know that it's sincere. One of the anecdotes that I like to share is that our business advisors do a really good job of communicating with the consultant team when they've done a good job with their clients. They send an e-mail. They give specifics about what the client said, of their impact, not what they experienced, but how that consultant impacted their week. And it makes a big difference because it's sincere.

Out of those five things, I think we can really drive positive psychology in an organization that creates that culture where we give feedback that is positive and two-fold, sincere.

Anna Slaydon: That's excellent. I love how those points are really simple, and actual, and free.

Ramonda Kyser: Mm-hmm.

Anna Slaydon: You know, you're not having to pay a whole lot of money to make those things happen. Those are things you can implement right away.

Ramonda Kyser: Right. I think a lot of times organizations think, "Well, let's have fun day." Or, "Let's do all these extra things." While they're nice things to do, they're not the only thing that we can do. You can do some of these everyday five steps to make a big impact.

Anna Slaydon: Yeah.

Dr. Mouriño: You know, and it's so funny you say that, because I'm reminded of when that article you sent me about the company came out—and it said, "You have to have this happiness practice that you need to implement." And actually really got themselves in trouble, which really, if you think about it, you're forcing, trying to force a positive thing, which is sort of contradictory. If it's a good thing, people will naturally want to do it. If you create a genuine environment, a collaborative environment, you're in turn creating a good culture that people go, the boss, the leader, the manager, is sincere. He or she wants us to be successful, be involved. Versus it being forced.

Anna Slaydon: It would be impossible for us to talk about culture without also talking about employee engagement. So in our next episode, we'll do just that.

On this podcast, we share tips all the time. And I would love to hear from you. What have you tried? What's working? What didn't work for you? Email me at LeadershipInstitute@BBandT.com. That's LeadershipInstitute@BBandT.com. And let me know how it's going.

For more information or for today's show notes, visit us on the web at BBTLeadershipInstitute.com. Leadership Amplitude is a podcast production of The BB&T Leadership Institute, all rights reserved.

[End of Audio]

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