Negative feedback: 100 business professionals share insights

The research accompanies the short aggregated results published by our CBDO Ms. Yulia Koroleva on Forbes Business Development council.


Last updated: October 12, 2021

For the past several weeks we have been doing research on Negative feedback culture all over the world. Well, it is commonly understood that people are always OK getting and delivering positive feedback, but what about negative one? How to let a colleague know bad news? Is negative feedback prohibited or maybe there are some set of procedures and forms to share it? Code Inspiration team carries out negative feedback research and is happy to share the results with you. 

The situation is that there is a problem regarding negative feedback: when someone is hearing negative feedback, it is perceived personally by default. Surely, the first reaction of a person is to argue, object, disagree with the negative feedback just heard. This might lead to conflicts, misunderstanding, wrong conclusions, in more rare cases in more rare cases – to employees’ burnout or even dismissal. At the same time, ignored or unsaid negative feedback can lead to problems in business. Let’s have a look at what experienced business executives think about this problem and how they deal with negative feedback.

For the research we have not just googled some info and negative feedback practices by regions. Instead, we have interviewed more than 100 business professionals all over the world who provided us with valuable, insightful inputs. We asked business leaders to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the attitude to negative feedback in your country or company? 
  2. Is it prohibited or strongly encouraged? 
  3. Is it customary at your place of work or in your country to express negative feedback, to managers, as well as all the other team members, and if so, what are the best ways to express negative feedback, do you have any agreed procedure for this? 

Anyway, speakers were not limited with these questions and could provide answers in a free narrative form. Let’s have a look at their responses:Negative feedback culture - infographic with responses from business professionals

In the research below you will find complete versions of these and other responses full of details provided by other business professionals.

To simplify the reading, we divided the negative feedback culture and practices into regions. 


Negative feedback culture – basic terms

Any research should start with some basics and explanation of terms, shouldn’t it? Well, let’s make sure we have the same understanding of the basics of what the research will be about:

  • Feedback – information about actions returned to the source of the actions, according to Wikipedia
  • Positive feedback – feedback that tends to magnify a process or increase its output, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary. Here is one more great definition of positive feedback: communication that recognizes another’s strengths, achievements or successes. Positive feedback is not the subject of research, but experts mention it many times.
  • Negative feedback – information about actions or inactions impacted the performance in a negative or in a non-improvemental way delivered to someone.
  • Negative feedback culture – set of well-established practices, procedures dedicated to sharing and getting information about actions or inactions impacted the performance in a negative  or in a non-improvemental way.

We would like to underline that definitions for Negative feedback and Negative feedback culture were generated by us after the research. Feel free to contact us if you can share a better explanation(s).


Negative feedback culture in Europe

Negative feedback culture. A photo of business people discussing something.

Nordic countries

Denmark

Mr. Simon Elkjær, Chief Marketing Officer of avXperten, home of Denmark’s most affordable electronics. Simon has more than a decade’s worth of experience in eCommerce, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Let’s have a look at Simon’s insights:

Two of the things our company values the most are communication and unity which requires talking about and listening to feedback no matter how positive or negative it might be. This is also why it’s important for us to encourage and provide our workforce with the right channels and protocols to make sure that their feedback is properly heard and addressed. The thing is, the only way you’re going to make the most out of feedback is by making sure that the process goes both ways. Making sure that the members of your workforce are receptive, open to suggestions and constructive criticism encourages others to follow the right procedure and give valuable feedback. Doing this will not only help you avoid misunderstandings, address issues quicker but will also make it easier for you to achieve and maintain a positive work culture.

Mr. Laus Brandt, CTO at Wicomico tenant platform, explains:

I have a little feedback for the Scandinavian countries (or at least Denmark). You are expected to point out things that don’t work in a respectful and constructive manner also to and regarding people superior to you. You are also expected to receive criticism with an open mind and do your best to find and be a part of a solution as everybody else that might be involved in the issue. In general, we don’t care much who is superior to whom. That said, when a superior uses his boss power, it is to be respected.

Iceland

Mr. Ásgeir Vísir, Chief Experience Officer & Co-Founder of Smitten – a dating app which turns users’ personalities into a type of game and makes it as easy as swiping to get into a fun conversation. Smitten makes dating and being single fun instead of something you have to endure before getting into a relationship.

Smitten is an Icelandic dating app with a team of ten Icelanders. Icelandic people are not particularly known to be confrontational. We try to stay as far away from each other as possible on public transport, mainly because we want to be left alone. At Smitten, we hire with two criteria in mind:

  1. Cultural fit
  2. Talent. 

We value internal and external communications above anything else and teach our employees how to engage with each other, including how to give critique and how to handle criticism. People immediately let others know if something is bugging them, instead of letting it linger on and turn into a grudge!

We believe the road to success is built on great communication between everyone on the team!


Western Europe

United Kingdom

Mr. Dan Potter – Co-Founder of CRAFTD – global premium jewelry online retailer – insists that transparency is a key to success regarding feedback and feedback, both positive and negative must be “A Two Way Street”:

Employees appreciate transparency, which allows them room to stay curious, creative, and without fear of failure. The tone you set for your team can make or break your employees’ success and overall engagement in your company. Thus, communicating clearly, remaining kind and humble, and being open to feedback, will afford you the same in return. These are always appreciated traits and are the foundations for successful collaboration.

Mr. Dan Potter also adds that if a CEO isn’t receiving feedback well, many issues can arise. The employees will have fears of retaliation which will harm the company’s ability for improvement. and necessary changes that should be made will create larger problems. Moreover, there can be acting out and a lack of reciprocation down the line when other employees receive feedback from different people in levels of the company. In all reality, constructive criticism needs to be a two-way street and a leader needs to do just that – lead by example.

Ms. Eloise Skinner – a consultant from the UK shares her point of view regarding feedback culture in the UK:

In my work as a consultant, I generally see a more reserved approach to feedback in the UK. Givers of feedback tend to prefer an indirect approach (for example, writing down comments in a performance review), rather than directly expressing thoughts and opinions. Interestingly, this seems to be the case for both positive and negative feedback!

Ms. Skinner also specifies that companies try to establish some procedures for sharing feedback: 

Some corporations are moving towards a more formalised feedback environment – for example, “upward reviews” (where junior members of the organisation provide feedback on senior employees) or ‘360 mentoring’, where individuals are given feedback from a variety of sources. 

Mr. Richard Mews is a real estate investor, landlord and developer within the UK. Mr. Mews adds some effective practices how to deliver feedback to employees:

Pose self-reflective questions. Your comments will be more helpful if you ask workers specific questions about their thinking process throughout the scenario and why they behaved in a particular manner. This provides context and enables the employee to get a better understanding of their conduct.

Employees are often aware that they are experiencing difficulties and may even offer their own suggestions for improvement. Employees are more invested if they believe they are contributing to the organization’s improvement and growth rather than being told what to do.

Mr. Chris Muktar, founder of WikiJob UK portal provided us with the following detailed analysis of feedback culture:

As a CEO, I’ve noticed that many workers think their bosses are monsters who don’t care about their opinions, but this isn’t always the case. The majority of business owners and CEOs care about their employees and do not want to upset them or cause them to be frustrated. Since sensitivity is useful in most professional circumstances, it can be difficult to offer negative feedback when the moment arrives.

It’s simple to praise outstanding work, but what about when someone in your department needs a hard kick in the back rather than a pat on the back? In that scenario, you’ll need to provide some critical criticism while remaining non-demotivating and non-moralizing to the other individual.

Since delivering negative criticism is a challenging task, many people will postpone it until it is necessary. In my opinion, if you ask workers specific questions about their thinking process in the situation and why they acted the way they did, your evaluation will be more helpful. This sets expectations and allows the employee to have a better understanding of their conduct. Employees are typically aware that they are experiencing difficulties and may even ask questions on how to enhance. Employees are more motivated if they believe they are contributing to the improvement and growth of the company rather than being told what to do. Also, before you react, listen to what employees have to say. If you want to collaborate on a strategy to improve, make sure you have all of the certainty. Put yourself in their shoes and listen to their problems, anxieties, and any other things that may be preventing them from performing at their best. This makes it easier for you to provide feedback from a perspective of understanding. When you start the discussion by letting them know you’re aware of their problems and want to support them, they’re more inclined to listen and feel empowered to provide recommendations.

Ms. Maya Stern is the head of marketing and PR for Creative Navy UX Agency. Maya tells how they do their best to build a transparent feedback culture in the team and why it is important for their business: 

Our company prides itself on a culture that fosters openness and transparency. We are encouraged to approach our superiors if we have any kind of feedback or problem. In a 15 person team, this is neither intimidating nor out of the ordinary.  I think this type of approach might be a consequence of the way we work. The design process relies on feedback in order to produce the best possible results, so our colleagues go to users, stakeholders, and to one another for opinions very often. This has been the rule of thumb for every single project, and we’ve gone through more than 500 to this date. UX design is an iterative process, which means that there’s a lot of trial and error involved. Applying design thinking, brainstorming, and cultivating an empathic view of the opinions and contributions of others are essential to the success of the digital products we design. You could say that feedback is not only encouraged, but vital.

In regards to negative feedback, passing it on requires two things: clearly identifying the reason behind it and proposing a solution. This helps keep the conversations productive. 

Martin Seeley, Chief Executive Officer at MattressNextDay. His opinion is actually an opposition to many already expressed. Martin promotes feedback sharing culture in his business, but he is against certain feedback practices:

Feedback is one of the best tools a leader can have, but only when it is done properly. In a healthy organization, giving and receiving negative feedback is unavoidable as a constructive work environment encourages honesty and openness. In my experience as a CEO constructive feedback generates opportunities for a company’s growth.

Be direct and concise. Avoid beating around the bush and avoid doing the feedback “sandwich”. A feedback sandwich is a sequence wherein you start with a compliment, then give the critique, and end it with a compliment. Doing so gives the employee a sense of false hope, it also confuses them as to where they need to improve. Never sugarcoat what you have to say.

Direct feedback to the actions, not the person. A person is more likely to be defensive when they are criticized personally, so direct your feedback towards their job. Be sure to back your feedback with information and data regarding the concerns you are addressing.

Actually this approach is somehow similar to the communication we practice here in Belarus, that is, direct and formal, with detailed explanation of what has been done wrong and what is expected to improve. We’ll talk about our feedback culture later in the relevant section below.

Mr. Faisal Nasim, director of Exam Papers Plus is our next speaker. Exam papers produce engaging and effective practice papers that help prepare students for their exams across the UK. Faisal explains how feedback culture varies from company to company in the UK and why:

The UK is a densely-populated and pretty diverse place, especially in the big cities. Because of this, feedback culture is different wherever you go. What I’ve found in the UK is that feedback culture is still a little strained in bigger corporations that have older CEOs and management. In businesses with younger staff and management, feedback culture is a lot more open and easy to navigate.

At Exam Papers Plus, I try to have a very open culture of feedback. I do this through having one-on-one check-ins with my staff, where we can have open and honest conversations about what’s going on in our lives, how that might be affecting our work, and how we can both be doing better. I find the back-and-forth can help people open up in terms of feedback. Of course, it sometimes takes a little time for people to get comfortable giving feedback in that situation, but I find that it’s the best way to do it once the ball is rolling.

Ms. Seema Desai, Chief Operations Officer at iwoca – company offering business loans. Seema is sure that the only way to be effective with feedback is to care personally

One of the main reasons that people join iwoca is for the opportunity to develop and grow their skills – feedback is the most important tool they can have to help them do that. It’s part of our culture to give and receive candid feedback; we have dedicated training sessions when people join us in order to help them do that, and regular refresher-training to ensure we are sharing feedback in the right way. Everyone is encouraged to give (and ask for) feedback from anyone else at iwoca, where they think it would be valuable. We really mean everyone – from our newest hires to our most experienced, from our junior staff to our CEO.

When I joined iwoca, I brought Kim Scott’s principles of ‘radical candor’ with me. Her book describes how to challenge directly while still caring personally, and outlines a strikingly fresh blueprint by which staff can communicate with one another honestly and productively.

Feedback also allows us to foster another key aspect of our culture, which is ‘diversity of thought’; we believe this improves the quality of conversations and leads to better decisions. Combine radical candor with a team of diverse thinkers, and you’ve got a vibrant community. We’ve ended up making better decisions because more informed, empowered ‘iwocans’ have felt able to challenge bad ideas before they came to fruition.

At iwoca we look for that humility in everyone we hire. We make sure to talk about our failures, accept our own mistakes and acknowledge our weaknesses knowing that (whilst it’s uncomfortable) it fuels our development. Receiving ‘radically candid’ feedback is key for us to be able to do this.

Spain

Alejandra Marqués is Time Management and Goal Achievement Mentor and an Accountability Advisor. Alejandra says the culture of delivering negative feedback is emerging in Spain:

Here in Spain, it depends on the type of company you’re at. Normally negative feedback is not well received, it is not prohibited though, but employees don’t give negative feedback unless there’s a very good, or friendly relationship with the manager. However, it is a growing practice. The best way to express negative feedback is to encourage growth and a collaborative space, don’t just state what’s wrong, but also give suggestions on how to improve.

We have one more response from Spain. The speaker is Ms. Catherine Cooke, founder and CEO of Upskillwise – a platform that reviews online learning courses and produces educational content for workers looking to develop their professional skills. Catherine is a British expat living in Spain and the differences in corporate culture took her a while to get used to:

From my experience, Spanish workers are not shy about voicing their feedback and concerns. Overall, Spanish workers are satisfied and engaged in their work. They have high expectations of their employer, and if they feel that they are being treated unfairly, or that there is more that you could do to make them happy at work, they’ll make it known.

It can be a bit of a culture shock for anyone living outside of continental Europe. At first, it can seem that they’re being rude and short with you, but in reality they’re being straightforward by not beating around the bush. I think that this stems from the EU’s firm labour laws and regulations. Workers understand what they’re entitled to and they’re not afraid to speak up. Once you get over the cultural barriers, this is actually a great help.

If an employee tells you that they’re satisfied, you can be confident to take them at their word. They’re not only saying what they think you want to hear for fear of repercussion. It’s nice that people won’t keep quiet simply because they’re worried about petty retaliation.

From my experience of working with Spanish people, feedback comes hard and fast. Employees are happy to let their needs be known which helps build a bridge between staff and management.


Central Europe

Germany

Mr. Malte Scholz from Airfocus begins to uncover interesting aspects of negative feedback culture in Germany: 

Germans are famous for being very formal and strict which reflects on the workplace culture as well. They are used to the vertical type of hierarchy and will rarely provide any type of feedback (let alone negative one) to our supervisors. This is considered disrespectful and is almost never done. When it comes to receiving feedback, Germans are very objective and direct, no matter how bad the situation is. People who are not used to this communication style may easily get demotivated. However, everyone knows that negative feedback isn’t personal and they are capable of focusing on the professional aspect only.

Germans also don’t share feedback with team members since this is considered to be the manager’s job. Unless directly asked, Germans will remain quiet and won’t interfere in other people’s business.

Mr. Chris Bolz, a serial founder and entrepreneur at heart with 2 decades of professional experience in the tech field. Chriz is running several projects now, including a business incubator – Coara, where they build MVP products for startups who are looking for outsourcing solutions. Chris uncovers feedback culture aspects regarding customer experience and communication with clients:

Here we have a culture that is more action-orientated, so when there is negative feedback the employees are encouraged not to go in and just deliver the bad news. Instead, look into the issue and investigate what was the problem internally (or at least start the process). Reach out to the customer, apologize for the bad experience that they had and present ways to improve it or mediate it (refunds, bonuses, etc) , understand their viewpoint and be sincere. Oftentimes you will find that they are willing to remove their negative review or even change it to a positive one.

Once you have done this, you can go to your boss and tell them what has happened and that you have already taken action to help. They will understand that sometimes the business can get a negative review and most importantly you can take this event and build your credibility in their eyes by taking action instead of being just the bearer of bad news.

Mr. Florian Berg – founder and CEO of VPNWelt – has more than 15 years of experience in the field of data protection & cybersecurity. This, in turn, has enabled him to create VPNWelt. With his knowledge in cybersecurity, Florian’s goal is to share his experience and to support you with questions regarding privacy policy and protection.

In Germany, we tend not to sugarcoat unpleasant things. If our colleague or a close friend asks for an honest opinion, they know it may be harsh. Germans are not afraid of using strong words while giving negative feedback. Moreover, it is encouraged to be straightforward so that a person has a clear vision of what is wrong. And there should not be any difficulty in decoding a message.

The VPNWelt team likes to use the sandwich method of criticism. We feel like it’s less harsh, but the criticism is still expressed clearly. Of course, everybody makes mistakes, and it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with the person in question. So this method, in particular, allows us to praise a person while showing them what should be improved.


South Europe

Malta

Mr. David Attard – Digital Consultant and Web Designer – is a speaker from Malta. David shares a simple procedure established in his business to deliver and get feedback, let’s have a look:

Our organization has no issues with negative feedback, if anything we try to encourage such feedback however the tone of such feedback is important. For employees, we have a Friday evening session called ‘Speak Your Mind’, where we let our employees talk about the issues they faced in a particular sprint cycle (Sprint cycle is of 14 days). Here criticisms are encouraged and resolved as soon as possible.

Cyprus

Mr. Martin Luenendonk – Chief Executive Officer at FounderJar – platform that helps conceptualize, build and establish online businesses: 

As a CEO, I perceive that feedback plays a great role in the improvement and development process of an individual or an organization.

Negative feedback affects people depending on their mindset. In our company, giving such is part of the operation. It is being encouraged to communicate their opinions that they think will matter to the organization. However, giving negative feedback is sometimes being affected by the organizational structure that usually results in conflicts with open-door policy implementation. This is because not all employees can take this kind of feedback as constructive criticism for them to improve. This does not exclude an instance where managers receive negative feedback from their subordinates.

I think that negative feedback can sound better at some point. I suggest that instead of pointing out the problems alone, negative feedback should come with positive ones. Moreover, making it sound as if you are giving a piece of advice to improve something instead of saying that they are wrong will be much better. 


Eastern Europe

Ukraine

Dr. Ivan Zak is a speaker from Ukraine. He is a CEO at VIS, a business consulting company and solution provider based in Canada, that helps corporate groups in veterinary and other domains systematize acquisition, integration, and improvement of practices with a special focus on burnout prevention.

In Ukraine, where I grew up, the feedback culture is not well established. Most people usually take feedback as something negative rather than a helpful hint for development. Cases, when employees give feedback to their bosses, are rare events. Although it can be true of any country or company. It happens because only a handful of people know how to do it right.

First, we don’t use the term ‘negative feedback’, rather ‘constructive’ or ‘development’ feedback because its main purpose is to help the person reflect and grow. Given in the right way, feedback builds trust, creates a sense of support and care. It’s important to make the habit of giving and receiving feedback a part of the corporate culture, starting from the top.

The ability to give feedback to colleagues on any level of the organization facilitates continuous improvement, empowers individuals to be creative and innovate.

We rely on Radical Candor, a management approach which was introduced by Kim Scott. The philosophy is: Care Personally while Challenging Directly. The crucial point is to be ready to talk about wins and failures with the same frankness, supportiveness, and timeliness. Never evaluate a person, only their actions, and give a few tips on improving the workflow. Every member of the team usually makes a plan, chooses the right time, and makes sure that a colleague is ready for a conversation. And of course, there are no restrictions on who you provide feedback to, whether it’s your superior or subordinate.

Feedback loops are an integral part of the business methodology that we use to grow our company – Entrepreneurial Operating System developed by Mr. Gino Wickman. If some issues appear, we follow the three-strike rule. After a one-to-one discussion, there are 30 days for improvement. If nothing changes, there is a second round of feedback where we discuss performance again and give another 30 days. Strike three usually doesn’t happen because people with the same core values progress fast while not your people leave on their own.

Ms. Tatiana Gavrilina, Content Marketing Writer at DDI Development shares more insights how feedback culture is growing in Ukraine:

I can state the fact that in Ukraine it is not customary to give negative feedback. To be more exact, if our people do not like something they are inclined to speak about it straightforwardly. Fair to say things are changing for the better, and today in companies with a modern culture of thinking, people are learning to give correct feedback, even if it is negative in tone. 

I am lucky to have been involved in IT and marketing for 10 years. The people here, as I have been able to see, are flexible-minded and well-mannered. They make sure that the work environment is friendly, not toxic. So even if someone has made a mistake, that person is invited to an one-on-one meeting, where the situation is discussed in a correct manner and without witnesses.

But there are other times when management is self-righteous and rude, when it considers all other people who have a soft character or do not meet management’s requirements to be bad employees. In such cases, management may raise its voice to the employee in front of all other employees. I have witnessed more than one such situation over the years in my career.

The good news is that there are fewer and fewer people in our industry who openly voice their negative feedback or dissatisfaction. Perhaps our tendency to be negative and harsh stems from our mentality. But as we grow professionally and interact with other cultures, we become more flexible and understanding. I am enthusiastic about this trend.

Mr. Pavlo Boiko, Founder & CEO of Advanced Software Development company from Ukraine is of the following opinion:

Q: What is the attitude to sharing feedback in your organization/company/country?

A: In Advanced Software Development (ASD.team) company, we believe that sharing feedback is an integral part of an effective work process and its outcome, accordingly.

Q: Is sharing feedback strongly encouraged or maybe fully prohibited?

A: Sharing feedback is strongly encouraged in ASD.team. What’s more, there’s a schedule for formal feedback sharing and specific forms for different departments and positions.

Q: Do you share feedback with colleagues?

A: Yes, that is not a problem. HR and marketing departments are responsible for collecting feedback mostly. As to developers, QAs, BAs and managers, they provide assessment and performance evaluation once in 6-12 months. Often focus groups of employees share their ideas about what they enjoy/not enjoy about working in the company and how the company can improve their working environment.

Q: What about sharing (negative) feedback to a person who is higher in position? 

A: Our leadership board encourages employees to tell their both positive and negative opinions to higher position colleagues. It makes the work process more transparent and excludes any miscommunication and misunderstandings.

Q: Is there any (agreed) sharing positive/negative procedures at your company?

A: HR and marketing departments are responsible for collecting feedback mostly. As to developers, QAs, BAs and managers, they provide assessment and performance evaluation once in 6-12 months. Often focus groups of employees share their ideas about what they enjoy/not enjoy about working in the company and how the company can improve their working environment.

Q: Any other thoughts regarding aspects of sharing/collecting feedback? 

A: We usually collect info in Google Forms, but now we are designing our own solution for this. By bringing such feedback moments into the company’s culture, we ensure that all the team members feel the integrity and support on all work levels.

One more speaker from Ukraine is Mr. Nazar Kvartalnyi, COO at Inoxoft software development company: 

Since Ukraine has signed the Association Agreement with the European Union, it has initiated several reforms not just in the legal systems to meet the EU standards, but in every possible field, including corporate culture. And as our society is leading to transparency, which is one of our main values here at Inoxoft, we believe that one of the greatest tools toward this is sharing constructive feedback. People still are getting used to this process due to our mentality, most of them feel like sharing feedback openly is something prohibited and try not to speak out loud. But they are more confident to leave it in written form. 

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, people are always in search of physiological needs, safety, affection, social needs or self-esteem, and self-actualization. If our organization could just give them all the tools to meet all of these requirements that would be perfect. But, as we know, not all people like to share what’s going on with them and to set priorities. Thus, sharing feedback at Inoxoft company is a daily practice and a good tool for creating a healthy environment, boosting productivity and achieving better results. So, at Inoxoft employees are assigned to send anonymous polls, surveys, and questionnaires to make sure everyone has everything he/she needs or there is still a place for improvements. Doing so Inoxoft ensures that every employee is being heard. 

At Inoxoft, sharing feedback concerning the work environment, management, organization, etc. is highly encouraged as this way we can positively influence communication between team members to achieve better results. We always take into account every report and try to adjust everything within our company, so it could bring comfort and a pleasant atmosphere throughout working hours. Sometimes, even after working hours. 

Inoxoft shares every type of feedback with our employees. This way we promote the atmosphere of trust and awareness. Also, colleagues are encouraged to share constructive feedback with their fellow co-workers as this is a great means to understand each other better and their thoughts on various solutions. Sharing feedback with colleagues also stimulates creativity as being able to hear multiple opinions gives a vast field to work with. 

Sharing any kind of feedback to a manager higher in position makes sense. Especially if it is negative. Mainly, because this manager is the person who can make a difference. When the manager is notified that something should be enhanced to promote better work conditions for employees, or that something that is good for one person is not good for the other, he/she will work on these problems to resolve them. We all are humans. Every person has his/her thoughts, preferences, ideas, tempos, and needs. To cooperate and collaborate on good terms, workers and managers need to establish the right working environment. This can be done only in the form of feedback. 

Most of the feedback-sharing procedures at Inoxoft are done by employees based on their true feelings about the company. Inoxoft even allows staying anonymous for that reason so employees could share negative issues occurring and ideas. The same happens when managers give feedback to their employees: the feedback given is trustworthy and based on employee competencies. Inoxoft does not give agreed feedback and feedback that is based on personal feelings as it is completely against our values. We find no pleasure in distorting the right flow of events. 

We believe that feedback is one of the most important communication forms between employees and managers. Some of the employees may be shy or introverted to speak their mind and anonymous questionnaires or surveys may give a lot of insights on what this person wants from the company or managers and lacks in his/her daily office life or career development. What’s more, by improving issues according to employees’ feedback, the company gives employees all the necessary conditions to work, learn, acquire new knowledge, and master new skills. This way our employees stay dedicated to us for a long time. Thus, Inoxoft supports sharing either positive or negative feedback as it stimulates growth. We wish this practice to be implemented more on the country level and any feedback to be taken as means to develop and not as the sticks put in the wheels.  

So it looks like Ukranian business professionals from the IT sector really value feedback, both positive and negative. They try to establish a continuous process of feedback “engineering”, that is, feedback sharing, collection, processing. As a result, they get a continuous flow of insights, ideas and proposals from employees, which are subjects to work on and improve. As authors of the research we support this approach very much. 

Belarus

Let’s have a look at how negative feedback culture is developed here in Belarus – the country where our development center is situated. In fact, our feedback culture is simple. Regarding feedback from an employee to manager: in general it is a rare event here. However, if we are talking about companies that work with foreign partners, their corporate culture is more “westernized”, including negative feedback culture. So there are companies where hushing up problems is not accepted and if some issues arise, employees are expected to inform manager(s) about them. 

Negative feedback in this case will be most likely delivered in a formal, direct form without any embellishment and without any bread of an american sandwich method. An employee will simply say something like: “Hey, look, we have a problem with this and this, which affects this”. An employee will most likely also propose a solution, in case the issue is in his/her area of competence.

If we are talking about feedback from manager to an employee, basically this doesn’t take place when a team-member does his job well. Closed tickets in tracking systems are considered as positive feedback. But when a team member has some problems with results of his work, or decreased performance, the manager will react with some negative-constructive feedback. This feedback will be said in a direct and formal way, with detailed explanation of what goes wrong and is expected of the employee. 

Poland

What about our neighbors from Poland and their feedback culture? Let’s listen to Mr. Marek Talarczyk, CEO, Netguru, an innovation consultancy company. Marek starts with some description of the values they try to promote in the company: 

Netguru is a digital consultancy founded in 2008. Since the very beginning, our culture has been very value driven. One of the values is ‘Recognise excellence and engagement’ which basically means that as an organization we know the value of well-earned respect and constructive feedback.

We don’t believe there’s a division between positive and negative feedback. If given properly, any feedback aims to help the person who receives it grow and improve, thus allowing the whole organization to improve. We care about each other, we foster the culture of growth and constant improvement, which is why we teach our leaders to follow the rules of Radical candor (as explained by *Kim Scott in Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity*). We want our people to think for themselves and make decisions of their own, and giving and receiving constructive and continuous feedback is the way to achieve this.

That’s why regular feedback – following the radical candor approach – is something that we use daily in Netguru.

Any feedback that contains no actionable way for improving oneleselve’s behavior or skills, or is aimed only to criticize someone and doesn’t help them grow, is not proper feedback as it brings no real value to the table. 

We like the idea of no division between positive and negative feedback very much. This is an interesting approach of treating any feedback like just feedback, not characterizing or classificating it as positive/negative/constructive. That is, if there is some feedback, some reaction is required, and that’s it. Do you like such an approach? Do you think its nature is constructive and beneficial for business?


Negative feedback culture in North America

Let’s have a look at what business professionals say about negative feedback culture in Canada and the United states!

USA

Negative feedback culture. A photo of a group of american bussiness professionals

Robert Johnson, founder and owner of Sawinery from the US, Connecticut, talks about the so-called “sandwich method”. He says: 

Sharing negative feedback is done by saying a positive feedback first, followed by the negative feedback, then ending with a positive comment again. This way, the negative feedback is still delivered but it is not as offending as it sounds. Some people say that this drastically lowers the value of the negative feedback, but I think, emotions of my employees is better than not cushioning the negative feedback.

Mr. John Berry – CEO and Managing Partner of Berry Law, a company that helps US veterans protect their rights, explains that sharing feedback is of high importance when comes to ensuring business success:

Providing a forum for feedback helps create a solid team dynamic and fosters employee engagement. One idea becomes a catalyst to an even greater idea in a team setting. We offer the option to submit feedback anonymously. I’ve found employees will generally share positive input under their names and concerns as anonymous. Both are helpful and are designed to bring about change for the better. As a result, it fuels inspiration and leads to innovation, faster resolutions, and overall efficiency. Most importantly, feedback allows employees to trust their employer and each other, helping to establish a camaraderie that impacts the company for the better. It brings solidarity, making adapting to change less overwhelming as the necessary modifications are implemented based on each team member’s contribution. Whether it’s a one on one review or for company decision-making, integrating feedback into our workspace helps us to continuously improve and establish ourselves as the firm we aspire to be.

Ms. Katie Lyon – cofounder of Allegiance Flag Supply from South Carolina – company producing high-quality American flags and accessories, says that team members are more likely to express feedback, both positive and negative, anonymously. Here is her full input:

I believe anonymous feedback can provide a good source of information on whether your employees feel appreciated, overworked, or under-resourced. Most people don’t like to submit grievances under their alias and would instead do it anonymously for fear of unknown consequences. 

Ms. Katie Lyon also explains how building feedback culture looks in her business:

Although repercussion for feedback would never be the case in our company, we adhere to anonymous input to ensure that everyone is adequately prepared and afforded enough flexibility to manage the amount of work they do. Moreover, we want to ensure they feel valued and encourage engagement. The benefits of feedback show us that employees all want to feel as though they’re an asset and contribute to the brand’s success from the bottom up.

We really have many inputs received from the US business professionals. All the better, we suppose it is a great opportunity to examine the feedback culture of the country with long historical business traditions and culture. 

Next speaker is Mr. Daniel Edds, management consultant for over twenty-five years and the author of two books from Praxis Solutions situated in Washington. His input itself, in fact, represents a small research based on his business experience, including some real cases and explanation of informal communication as an option to get feedback:

The prevailing national culture will definitely impact any kind of feedback within an organization. I once worked for a man who was Asian and this cultural background most definitely tempered our communication with each other.National and ethnic cultures are not my area of expertise, but organizational culture is. So establishing a process for two-way communication vertically within an organization must be built into the organizational culture. There are two parts to this,

A designed process. This may not mean sitting down with a one on one with the corporate CEO but it should mean there is a process for an employee to communicate a concern. One of the best ways I have found to do this is a self-directed work team. These teams are given a specific scope of responsibility and given the power and authority to explore new thinking. One of the best examples I have is a hospital that set up a self-directed team to identify every place in the hospital and all ten clinics where a staff person or a patient might fall. They reported directly to the CEO and so bypassed the operational leadership who might get offended. They identified 119 small area rugs (among other things), that were torn, fraid, or otherwise a candidate to generate a fall, (falls is a leading cause of accidents in hospitals). There were several results but two of them are 

  1. There was a team of workers that just became engerized about their task and loved the experience, and 
  2. The number of lost workdays due to workplace accidents dropped by two-thirds in one year.

The leadership practices that help define the organizational culture. In my research for my book, the number one thing I found leaders do in high-impact organizations is to leave their offices and go visit with their teams.. Example, a CEO of a major hospital, upon being named CEO moved his office from the executive suite with the expansive views of a major sea port with snow capped mountains as a backdrop, to a nondescript office on the first floor right behind the admitting office. Then he began visiting with each of the departments 2-3 times each week. These were not formal meetings, it was more like the CEO dropping by to say high. The Chief Medical Officer of the Emergency Department told me, trust for executive leadership is soaring, and morale is at an all time high. Now this does not mean everyone felt the freedom to tell the CEO what he was doing wrong, but it established the foundation for honest dialog that was free from fear.

Mr. Will Cannon – CEO of Signaturely, digital signature providing business – lives in California and confirms a general positive C execs attitude to both positive and negative feedback in America, but pays attention that top managers sometimes do nothing with the feedback shared. Mr. Cannon named his input “The Grateful Positive, Yet Somewhat Self-Praisefull” and explained:

When working with an American boss, or in any corporate American setup, you will definitely feel that your work and effort is, indeed, applauded.

That’s one benefit of being raised in America and under a constant positively constructive environment. However, the tenacity to be appreciative and good can sometimes even confuse bitterly. That confusion arises because of certain C-Suite leaders who may be just superfluous in receiving feedback while feeling little to no need to act or alter based on the given advice.

Mr. Will Cannon adds also that “listening and giving due credit to feedback is one of the best qualities one will find in corporate America”.

Ms. Victoria Staten from Chicago, Illinois, President of FAMOLARE – women footwear producer explains her author’s variation of the Sandwich method that we described earlier.

Feedback: As a consummate leader across several large and small companies I always encourage feedback, positive and constructive (a much better word than “negative”).

I teach people the best way to deliver constructive feedback. Here is the best technique. I call it the Staten Sandwich technique:

  • Step 1: Explain how much the person means to you, the organization, etc. share good thoughts-and good energy. (Bread)
  • Step 2: Explain what happened, the situation, what they did or said. It must be 100% irrefutable fact based info. (Meat)
  • Step 3: Share how what happened, their behavior, what they said, made you FEEL or what it made you think. (Lettuce)
  • Step 4: Ask them “What do you think WE should do about this?” (Bread)

Trust me, using this approach is a perfect way to deliver negative information and turn it into a constructive conversation that will elicit positive change where both parties feel great about the conversation.

As you may have noticed, Ms. Staten pays attention that in America people do not say “negative feedback” and prefer to say “constructive feedback” instead. Actually she is not the only business professional who says so, further we will see others too.

Mr. Amy Ngo with Aria Direct Corporation also provided us with an input. He represents a startup from Silicon Valley. Mr. Ngo says they get and encourage users to leave feedback both positive and negative (constructive) to make their services better.

At AriaDirect, we encourage and value feedback from customers and employees alike. Founded in Silicon Valley, the center of the tech industry, user experience is not just a buzzword. AriaDirect really listens to negative feedback so we know what to avoid and what areas to improve in our website, app, and workplace. Users are welcome to share their experiences with our team when testing out our services and user flow.

In the workplace, we use a variety of different communication methods, such as Slack. Each team has its own private channel as well as a company-wide one. As a startup, our team is close-knit so meetings with the CEO and other figures are easily accessible. Any struggles can be communicated with one-on-ones or weekly team meetings. Honesty is the best policy because we can only map our trajectories when team members expose their obstacles. We can accurately plan new features and expected releases by first addressing weak spots. Project management not only pushes for a we-can-do-it attitude but ownership of tasks. Our team sees each other as respected peers and not only titles or responsibilities.

Anyway, we have more inputs from the US business pros. Ms. Ebony Chappell – Co-Founder & CMO, Formspal – an online platform that offers high-quality legal forms. Ms. Chappell says about delivering feedback from managers to employees ands building a relevant feedback sharing culture:

When providing unfavorable criticism, candor is the best policy. Given that the employee is likely aware that their performance falls short of expectations, it is critical to be candid, honest, and upfront. Avoid sugar coating bad performance, but likewise avoid the downsides. Be candid about their bad performance and show a desire to assist them in overcoming their obstacles to performance improvement. Employees will be far more open to criticism if you are candid and proactive in offering assistance. Being truthful benefits not just the circumstance, but also the connections you have developed with your workers, thus creating a good corporate culture. 

Mr. Vladimir Novosselov is the founder of Giving Palette, a clean cosmetics company. He also shares a worthy feedback sharing approach called “Prior to speaking, listen”, which is simple to apply in any team:

Prior to speaking, listen to workers. If you want to work together to develop an improvement plan, you must ensure that you have all of the necessary information. Consider putting yourself in their shoes and listening to their concerns, anxieties, and any other reasons limiting their success. This enables you to provide feedback empathically. When you begin the discussion by expressing your awareness of their difficulties and your desire to assist them, they are likely to be a lot more open and feel empowered to offer ideas.

We strongly agree with Mr. Novosselov’s feedback approach. In fact, a team member of any company usually has some thoughts and ideas regarding the state of affairs in their area of responsibility or in the company in general. No doubt such information is of great value. And if a CEO, manager, or owner wants to get such information, the easiest way is to talk with employees. 

Mr. Teo Vanyo, CEO of Stealth Agents – a virtual assistant service company. Mr. Vanyo promotes an opinion is that open communication is a key to success in the success of each employee and the company as a whole:

Before you can remove the root of the problem, you must first recognize it. You could be at the root of your employee’s lack of motivation because you may be unaware of the issue. No problem is too small to deal with honestly, therefore open communication is your passport to discovering if there may be a greater issue to confront. If you can trace the issue to its origin, you’ll be able to offer assistance to the individual and devise a strategy to resolve the issue. It’s common knowledge that we all have personal challenges outside of the workplace, which adversely affects our effectiveness at work. Regardless of personal issues or workplace issues, always be supportive of your staff. To better understand how to proceed, analyze the scenario from their perspective.

Ms. Shriya Sekhsaria runs Lumhaa – The Memory Jar Company, which helps create private websites for groups to save and share memories. The company operates in the US and India, so Shriya provided the research with an interesting feedback culture comparison in these 2 countries comparison: 

In the US, feedback is almost touted as a prerequisite for an open and encouraging work culture. Everyone gives everyone else all kinds of feedback, and expects feedback in return – if you don’t give them feedback, they feel ignored and like you don’t care about making them better. Feedback, even negative, is seen as a gift. In India, feedback is rarely given – except for when critiquing or correcting junior team members for something they could have done better. Even if a senior asks for feedback, the expectation seems to be for juniors to nod along and praise them. We’re still a long way from Feedback 360 becoming the norm, and it’s going to be interesting to see how it meshes with different cultures around the world.

Ms. Holly Zorbas from California, with CreditDonkey review and comparison website also speaks about how to deliver some negative feedback to employees in a professional manner:

A supportive talk is the greatest method to offer negative feedback. Because it provides both the problem and the remedy, constructive criticism is the most effective way to deliver negative feedback. Rather than merely telling them what activities you are condemning, explain the consequences of their actions and why they need to improve.

Create a specific approach for how the employee can make necessary adjustments and a defined deadline before meeting with the employee. Focus your feedback on the employee’s observed behaviour rather than their features and characteristics. Give concrete examples and exemplify proper conduct. If you stick to your activities and have a plan to move forward, employees are less likely to take constructive criticism personally. 

Mr. Lucas Travis, Founder of Inboard Skate from Ohio, shares his experience of delivering negative feedback to team members:

In our company, we exercise this culture of avoiding negative feedback. If there is dissenting feedback, we challenge employees to deliver it in the least hurtful way, or in a way that will encourage them instead of making them feel low about themselves. Also, we make sure that we follow a certain process in delivering feedback. It includes sitting down, the employee and telling them how good they are doing in the job and how beneficial they are to the company, which is why you think it’s best that they improve and focus on certain specifics too. This is when you give them insights on how they can improve on such things. Feedbacks are supposed to be your way to let someone know that they can improve, and not the other way around. We are cultured to give feedback so that a fellow employee will be motivated to do better,and it’s about the way we deliver that negative feedback canbe reversed to a motivation instead.

Well maybe we are wrong, but it looks like Mr. Travis’s feedback approach is something similar to supportive talk with elements of the sandwich method described by previous speakers, isn’t it?

Harriet Chan, co-founder of CocoFinder shares his approach of delivering negative feedback to employees: 

The best way to give negative feedback is through using the words “I wish” or “I wonder” to improve and change some aspects of employees. You should focus on the job, not the individual, by explaining the implication of action and offer solid methods to improve themselves. Also, develop the feedback to meet the recipient’s characteristics; for example, high performers prefer a more direct approach while others a subtle one.

Ms. Michelle Devani, the founder of lovedevani blog about relationship, pays attention that proper feedback delivery ensures not only employees development and business success, but also is a key factor to build harmonious working relationships in the team:

As an entrepreneur in the digital industry, I strongly believe that feedback is one of the most important factors to consider in order to achieve success in a business. Accepting feedback can help us to know where we need to improve or what we need to totally remove from our strategies so we can generate sales. This is the same when we talk about giving feedback for our colleagues or leaders inside the organization. Doing this can help us to change our attitude and adjust our characters so we can have harmonious working relationships with each other. It is a must that we should learn to accept feedback especially the negative ones so we can have an idea of our performance in the workplace. We need to learn not to hold a grudge on anyone so we can all have the freedom to say what we want to say for the improvement of our relationships. 

Mr. Jacob J. Sapochnick, Founder of Law Offices of Jacob J. Sapochnick. He is sure that feedback is something to be delivered within some established framework:

We are all aware that receiving comments allows us to improve and learn more. As a business owner, I make it a point to welcome all types of comments, both favorable and negative. Despite being encouraged, they must still adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Use the right words. Blaming and shaming others is not acceptable. They should deliver negative comments as objectively as possible so that it does not come across as a personal attack.
  2. Do it privately. To protect the person’s reputation and avoid any potential disputes, feedback should be given in a private location where no one will hear it.

Here is a question: while many business professionals value feedback, both positive and negative and promote the relevant feedback sharing culture, is it possible to say that feedback has become a comprehensive asset like finance, real estate, property and so on? Looks like the better business owners and CEOs deal with feedback: get and deliver it, collect, process, take decisions on it – the better their business goes? Here is such a small intermediate conclusion. Nevertheless, let’s have a look at what other business professionals say about negative feedback culture. 

Mr. James Bedford is a PR representative with Nashville Roofing – Roofing services company from Tennessee. James is fully agree that positive and negative feedback is of great usefulness for business:

Feedbacks are things to hone our skills. It is the information that will be useful for an employee’s decision-making to perform at their best. As a PR staff, we encourage the implementation of both positive and negative feedback in a company. There is nothing wrong with expressing and getting negative feedback. We know the functions of it, and we understand that this method is for our improvements. Also, we use some ways stated below to express it professionally.

  1. Do it privately. Leaders need to use the give and take method on this one. Talk with the employee with negative feedback alone. Concentrate and share positive things you want them to highlight. Express your support and allow them to state their opinions too.
  2. Present timeline observation models. Leaders need to be accurate on how, when, where, what, and why the poor performance happened. This way, your employees can reflect on those times to learn from their lessons. Set clear expectations and check its improvements regularly.

Mr. John Stevenson – Marketing Specialist at My GRE Exam Preparation situated in California. Let’s have a look at his opinion: 

My company is based in the US and here, negative feedback is something that is not entirely encouraged. Instead, it is only highly encouraged when it is deemed necessary. For example, negative feedback is customary when an employee or a team makes a mistake or there’s something lacking in them.

Once a month, we try to squeeze in a self-assessment wherein we say the things we got better on and the things that needed to be improved. We do this because we don’t want to decrease the morale of each and everyone, thereby affecting their productivity. Included in the self-assessment are the managers wherein they say things that they can improve on as well. At the same time, their employees share both positive and negative feedback to their seniors.

For instance, if we need to give negative feedback, we make sure to use the sandwich method. First, we give a positive one. The negative feedback is given in the middle and finally, positive feedback to end the dialogue.

Ms. Nora Robinson is a PR representative at Refresh Remodeling – a construction services company situated in Virginia. Nora says providing feedback is truly encouraged in her company. 

Feedback is vital for an individual’s or an organization’s improvement and development. That is why in our company, whether positive, negative, or constructive, providing feedback is always encouraged. Because this way issues can be identified and resolved, improvements can be made, and relationships can be improved. But when it comes to negative feedback, considering the words we use is crucial. Also, it is necessary to be clear and specific. Lastly, it is a must to make the conversation two-way.

Our next speaker from America says that feedback culture should encourage team members to share their thoughts and this also challenges the leader with being able to make own decisions, just listening is not enough for business success: 

The Pros of Negative Feedback: Being surrounded by “yes” people all the time can cause some major problems for you and your business. If everyone is always agreeing with what you have to say and the business decisions you’re making, you’re never going to be able to truly improve and advance. This is exactly why we encourage any type of feedback from our employees. Of course, we don’t expect employees to be rude when delivering negative feedback, but taking it on the chin and actually recognizing the points your employees are making can really have its benefits. It’s also important, however, to be able to make your own decisions. Not everyone is going to agree with every decision you make. And as a leader, it’s your job to be able to identify the best options based on your own experience as well as the feedback you receive. In some cases, your original ideas might be best, but in other cases it may be best to listen to the feedback you’re provided. – Mr. Teri Shern, Cofounder of Conex Boxes transportation services company.

Mr. Andrew Steninmann, Business Analyst represents Inkablelabel  – a product packaging label manufacturing company based in the US and Australia. Andrew’s company is the first among already reviewed where providing feedback is rewarded and there is understanding that building trust among team members is required.

At our company, we believe any kind of feedback is important, even crucial, to our improvement. It is highly encouraged, even rewarded. Therefore, we have fostered an open ‘top-down bottom-up’ communication channel. However, to keep things professional, we train our staff to communicate in a manner that is respectful, clear and direct. For all feedback given, especially the negative, we encourage each other to use a form that explains why this particular thing is negative, in what ways it has led to negative outcomes, and what they feel should be done about it to improve. Should this feedback lead to a significant improvement in the organization, the individual is rewarded for their insight.

For this process to work, there must be a baseline of trust. This can only be fostered over time as a rapport is built. For those who are still new and not particularly comfortable with expressing negative feedback due to fear of repercussions, we have a system of anonymous submissions that protects their identity using Survey Monkey.

Mr. Nicholas R.Fernandes, Founder & CEO of Memmzy, Founder & CEO of CreditSage adds information about the American feedback culture. His response will be in the QA form:

Q:What is the attitude to negative feedback in your country or company? Is it prohibited or strongly encouraged? 

A: I run two startups and I encourage all feedback. I believe that’s the only way one can grow. If you never truly failed at anything, you would never know true success. I invite all feedback whether it be negative or positive feedback. It helps me better my company’s pitches and corrects any issues. 

Q: Is it customary at your place of work or in your country to express negative feedback, to managers, as well as all the other team members, and if so, what are the best ways to express negative feedback, do you have any agreed procedure for this?

A: The best way to give negative feedback is to explain where you’re coming from and that you mean the best and there is no ill intent behind the feedback. Most corporations and managers and people. In general, people can’t take any negative feedback, you have considered a ‘hater and demoralizing anyone with your feedback makes you out to be the bad guy. Personally, I rather have negative feedback than people support a bad idea of mine.

Nicholas sums up with the following: “I grew up in Dubai and negative feedback isn’t given often and if you do you got to tread carefully, especially if it is against the government.

Mr. Seth Price, Founding Partner of Price Benowitz LLP values negative feedback very much: 

Negative Feedback Helps Us Grow: As a law firm, we are no stranger to negative feedback. But one thing that being in this industry has taught us is that negative feedback can cause positive results. Much like one needs to learn from their mistakes, negative feedback allows you to see exactly where you can improve your business or a situation. As you continue to grow, negative feedback might be just what you need to get to that next level, create an improved environment for employees, or any number of other things. At our firm, negative feedback is very much encouraged. We can be very objective when we need to be, as this allows us to create a better environment for our lawyers. If they give us negative feedback, we listen to it and try to see where we can improve the business and improve their lives at work as much as possible.

Mr. Shiv Gupta, CEO of Incrementors SEO Services advises based on his business experience:

The reason behind your employee’s lack of incentive could arise from an issue you may not be aware of. Open connection is your ticket to observing if there may be a deeper issue to tackle. If you can get to the root of the problem, you will seek support from the individual and come up with a plan of action. We all deal with secret issues outside of the office, which unfortunately can have a direct effect on our performance in the system.

Whether it is a special work-related issue, suggest support to your employees and be attentive to whatever they are dealing with. Inspecting the situation from their perspective can help you master how to go about it.

Mr. Brack Nelson, Marketing Director of the same organisation, Mr. Gupta’s colleague, highly recommends to Preempt Negative Feedback:

As soon as you spot wind of a client, colleague, or manager’s resentment, take a proactive stance and try to figure out what went wrong. When you start the exchange, you mentally develop yourself for the productive opinion that follows, moderating your body’s fight-or-flight response. The best way to create a spirit in which coaching is shared is not to put someone else in the hot seat, but to suggest taking it yourself. You can strengthen others, whether bosses, colleagues, or assistants, by asking for their investigations about your operation.

Mr. Kerry Lopez, HR Manager, also works here at Incrementors. He is sure that feedback benefits to an effective communication:

Communication refers to a two-way street. You can not only give orders and expect your project team to follow them. It may sound like a command rather than communication. Feedback plays an effective role in two-way communication, and it also helps to clarify what you’re saying. It also helps to improve your ideas. In a nutshell, Feedback is a win-win strategy.

A short response of Mr. Ryan Reiffert – a business, corporate, and estate planning attorney in San Antonio, Texas with the Law Offices of Ryan Reiffert

In the legal industry in the US, it’s pretty well encouraged. But at the same time, people generally don’t take it personally. I guess that comes from the profession being adversarial by nature? Who knows.

Well, we really have a lot of speakers from the United States. The next one is Ms. Alina Clark, growth manager and co-founder of CocoDoc. Alina is a Member of Business Journals Leadership Trust & Forbes Council. Alina shares her expertise regarding negative feedback culture:

Most managers don’t like to give feedback, but employees seem to love to receive it. Employees who receive negative feedback are more likely to be engaged than those who receive no feedback at all. In addition, they see receiving negative feedback as an opportunity to improve their job performance.

Employee surveys are one of the best techniques for getting feedback from employees. Because they can tell you everything they feel about their workplace, their environment, or their staff. And you can overcome it so that your employees don’t face the same problem again and help stabilize your company’s reputation.

Mr. John Leon, a crisis management lawyer at The Law Offices of John Leon in New York.  Actually he deals with negative feedback in his practice and here is he says:

In the US, the attitude towards conveying or receiving negative feedback in the workplace can vary from company to company and from region to region. It is often predicated by the corporate culture itself. So if employees are given the impression they will somehow be censured for giving negative feedback, they are unlikely to do so. But there is a growing understanding in the corporate world that  suppressing negative feedback can actually lead or snowball into bigger issues. In crisis management, I often counsel my clients to have internal protocols that encourage feedback across channels of communications. Because it is mostly in scrutinizing all feedback that you can spot any potential problems and prevent them from escalating – and these can usually be found in negative feedback. Companies that encourage employees to be forthcoming benefit immensely by having a clear view of operations and improve or pivot as required.

There’s also something to be said about having a diverse workforce as this allows various cultural cues to come into play. For example, in my firm, based in Florida, my team is diverse, giving us a multicultural perspective on how we operate internally and how we represent our clients who compromise the culturally diverse population of the state. And in this regard, coming from a Hispanic heritage I can safely say that we rarely have qualms expressing our appreciation or discontent over something. So in my firm employees have the freedom to convey their perspectives. Naturally, you can’t rely on stereotypes and presume that one cultural group will just be naturally more expressive about their opinions. And you need to be just as understanding about other cultures. For instance you have to be aware that there are ways to convey negative feedback that doesn’t offend someone else. If the company has the right protocols in place where everyone feels safe from reprisals and communications are directed across proper channels, this could prevent unnecessary misunderstandings or personal issues between colleagues. Thus it really depends on management to train staff properly and encourage all feedback that will give them the necessary understanding, not just of their team but of how effectively the company is operating.

Mr. Lyle D. Solomon, Attorney at Oak View Law Group situated in California, tells about positive tone of negative feedback:

In my organization negative feedback is usually given in a positive tone. Positive behavior is encouraged so that they reinforce that behavior. However, at times, negative feedback is required. We encourage our team to share negative feedback. We have an incentive system that helps in sharing negative feedback positively. Employees can themselves understand that performance needs to be improved. If required, they can talk to managers to improve their performance in one-on-one discussions.

Ms. Jenn O’Hara, I’m CEO of Soba Recovery Centers – substance abuse treatment centers. Jenn follows the sandwich method approach, at least partially:

In the US, it’s highly encouraged to give and receive feedback at work. It’s generally not customary to express negative feedback to managers unless a relationship has previously been established. The best way to express negative feedback is to give positive feedback first. For example, you can say “I like how you presented the reports this week. I just have a few suggestions for improvement.”

Mr. Grant Aldrich, the CEO of Online Degree, an educational platform with tuition-free classes. Grant is a sandwich method adept, he speaks on the topic based on his experience as a business owner:

In the United States, feedback is direct but inoffensive. As a manager, it can be hard to balance feedback between being constructive and coming off too harsh. On the one hand, Americans expect some measure of feedback because they want to improve. On the other, people can be very sensitive to negative comments and tend to take things personally.

My solution for giving kind yet helpful feedback is to speak as if I’m talking to a friend. I also use the technique of sandwiching a criticism in between two compliments. This makes the person receiving the criticism feel less upset and more accepting of it.

Mr. David Adler, CEO at Netinfluencer.com,  managing and transcripting marketing and technology-related innovations. 

Feedback is a manager’s best tool but only when it is utilized properly! A feedback culture is primarily a workplace culture developed in a manner to receive honest and unbiased feedback from the employees working in a particular organization. Building a strong and effective feedback culture should be the priority of the management of any organization. Moreover, feedback culture also develops a sense of a positive and happy environment

at the workplace which boosts employees’ self-confidence and raises morale eventually. Feedback can be channelized by utilizing a variety of mediums ranging from Surveys, Performance Management Platforms, Team Building Activities, etc. Negative feedback should be provided by the employee wherein his/ her thoughts should be backed by constructive criticism and the feedback must reflect an honest and virtuous opinion. Culture is a huge determinant of the mode through which we can give negative feedback.

Mr. Nathan Hughes, Digital Marketing and SEO Manager with over 9 years of experience at Diggity Marketing

First we go through what is feedback. Feedback is information or comments about something that you have done which tells you how good or bad it is.

A healthy environment at work is one that motivates and engages you. It’s hard to be motivated if you become the subject of criticism. If a manager or colleague pulls you aside to give you a bit of advice, and that advice turns out to be negative feedback, it can be hard to bounce back. You might become less productive. You might even start to spread negative feelings to other colleagues, creating a ripple effect of disengaged, unmotivated personnel. When giving negative feedback, you need to be direct, ask questions, listen before you speak, and consider the words you use. Focus on the job rather than the person, explain the implications of actions, and offer concrete ways in which they can improve. Remember that you need to be open to negative feedback, too.

No one is perfect; thus, listen to the negative feedback objectively. Thinking about your strengths and weaknesses could help you to approach criticism with an open mind to be able to understand the difference. For instance, someone may tell you to sip your tea quietly or go back to your desk. That comment may seem confrontational at first. However, if you evaluate it positively, you will realize that the individual could be dealing with their personal issues. That means that they are not against you as an individual.

Ms. Alexandra Botezatu, Chief of Staff at Digitail – the integrated veterinary management system and customer app. Alexandra believes that feedback culture is a critical topic in today’s environment so she decided to share her insights:

In many cultures people avoid feedback because it is not comfortable. As an organization, being aware of this and working towards making feedback of any kind the norm is the only way to assure that communication will be transparent at all levels and employees grow from the experience. It is not easy to take people out of their comfort zones, especially in a remote environment, but if expectations regarding feedback are clear and encouraged, you can bypass the cultural barriers.

Mr. Salvador Ordorica, CEO of The Spanish Group LLC – international translation services company. Salvador brings up the topic of employees’ engagement in his response:

Employees who are engaged are ideal for businesses. When it comes to eliminating unnecessary costs and optimising business practises, retaining employees should be a priority; engaged employees are more likely to stay with a company for a longer period of time, reducing HR costs when it comes to replacing them. Employees will feel valued in an open feedback culture if their feedback is actually acted upon. These employees will be more satisfied with both the company and their own work in their roles.

Ms. Meighan Newhouse, CEO and Co Founder of Inspirant Group LLC, situated in Illinois, a management consultancy which guides clients from inspiration to transformation.

In an era ushering in more digitization and automation, Meg still believes that humans are any organization’s greatest asset. After observing many people close to her dread going to work and loathing their jobs, she has focused her career on helping people reach their full potential in life, both in the work they do and beyond. 

At Inspirant Group, we talk about feedback a great deal, both internally as well as with our clients, but it has a positive connotation. Our philosophy is that feedback is a gift. We often say, ‘I owe you this feedback because I care about you..’ We truly see it as a way to help people to improve themselves and have also adopted the Kaizen Concept – a Japanese term and business philosophy concept meaning ‘change for the better’ or ‘continuous improvement’ involving all employees. You can apply the Kaizen Concept with teams; it’s in the small, daily and continuous improvements which help us to get past our own blindspots.

Feedback should be a regular thing so that team members are able to say something in the moment while being mindful. But, if we’re working on something with a team, we have no problem with kindly redirecting them in the course of conversation.

The term negative feedback is just that. It’s demeaning and has a sour connotation to it. If delivered properly and with good intentions, constructive feedback can be difficult to hear but if it helps me to improve, I don’t think of it as negative.

Mr. Todd Ramlin,  Manager of Cable Compare supports the opinion regarding usefulness of negative feedback:

Feedback Feeds Progress: I’m a manager for an eCommerce company and I encourage all forms of honest feedback on my team. Positive feedback is wonderful but negative feedback can be useful as a way to address an issue that needs attention. When people on my team have negative feedback I ask them to include suggestions for improvement, that way, instead of being criticism it’s turned into something constructive that can be built on. Feedback is an essential process for our team to learn what’s right, what’s wrong, and how to move forward in a better way. No matter how we perceive ourselves and our actions, we’ll never know if those perceptions line up with how the outside world is receiving us if we don’t actively pursue feedback so that we can know for sure.

Mr. George Santos, Director of Talent Delivery & Head of Marketing at 180 Engineering. George provides us with his own perspective here on how I think the culture that surrounds feedback is evolving in the United States:

Q: What is the attitude to negative feedback in your country or company?

A: For a long time, the corporate world in the US enforced a dynamic that solely treated employees as subordinates who were to do their job without complaint. This created situations where employees did not feel like they could voice negative feedback, and left powerful people with no one to consult with other than yes-men. In my opinion, forward thinking American businesses are breaking away from this attitude so that they can create healthier workplaces where employees feel supported in providing the kinds of crucial feedback that ultimately help them succeed.

Q: Is it prohibited or strongly encouraged?

A: At our company, all well-intentioned feedback is strongly encouraged. Hearing from employees directly gives us access to a wealth of innovative ideas and allows us to identify crucial issues that we need to solve. In turn, it also allows us to create a harmonious workplace where employees are happy, engaged, and likely to stay with our company for a long time.

Q; Is it customary at your place of work or in your country to express negative feedback, to managers, as well as all the other team members, and if so, what are the best ways to express negative feedback, do you have any agreed procedure for this?

A: Forward-thinking companies in the United States are currently desperate to hear the feedback of their employees. Due to the ways in which businesses traditionally operated, and due to ongoing power imbalances, employees understandably feel afraid to come forward with their concerns. As a consequence, many businesses are left in the dark. That is why a lot of companies have made a custom out of issuing anonymous surveys which allow people to provide feedback without any risk of consequence.

At our company, the agreed procedure is for employees to openly or anonymously provide feedback by focusing on ideas and practices. This feedback should never be a personal attack on any specific person. Instead, we promote the idea that both negative and positive feedback are merely a healthy part of the collaborative process.

Ms. Nina Hoedlmayr, Co-founder of the SaaS company Yodel.io. Nina tells about building a feedback culture in a multicultural team: 

Although our main business market is the US, we are a very diverse team: the founders are originally from Austria, but our team consists of Americans, Spaniards, Romanians, Ukrainians, and lastly Austrians. So although we are coming from an Austrian culture, we are focusing on creating a global culture where everyone feels heard, respected, and safe to openly share ideas/feedback and doubts – no matter one’s company’s seniority.

For some colleagues, it is easier to give and receive feedback based on their country’s background and personality, and for others, it can pose a bigger challenge. It is critical for a leader to understand who might have a more challenging time with feedback and to actively work towards this. Because at the bottom line, every team member needs to feel that they are being heard and their opinions are appreciated. Once you’ve got this – then it’s also easier for them to receive feedback because they know that it comes from good intentions.

So in terms of giving feedback, make sure that the other person feels valued and that this constructive feedback is only meant to work better together.

Lastly, when it comes to giving feedback to one’s superior, I think it is very important that the leadership team educates those superiors first so they understand the importance of enabling their respective employees to share their critical feedback.

Mr. Harrison Wall, business strategist for Sleep Junkie. Mr. Wall shares what feedback procedures and guidelines they have:

We encourage negative feedback in our workplace, but as we’re working with global workers from different cultures, we set out guidelines when giving and receiving feedback especially when it’s a negative one. Being from different cultures and having a different take on words, tones, and voices, we put forth rules to prevent escalation of negative feedbacks to personal attacks.

Our guidelines include being constructive like offering solutions and alternatives after giving negative feedback and we give them a chance to explain their side first so we can set out where an employee had it wrong (e.g. lack of knowledge or experience, impulsive decision due to pressure etc.)

Managers can easily give feedback to their teammates, but not vice versa. So before a manager huddles their team for his feedback and evaluation, a team is given time to talk on their own. There is a rotation in the team members who will vocalize feedback to their team leaders/ managers, both positive and negative feedback are encouraged. As a rule, negative feedbacks should be presented in a way that it also mentions about alternative solution/process that it could have been.

This is a way to prevent feedback from sounding like personal attacks or merely just criticisms. Also, every feedback should just be about work, attitude, and reactions and should not in any way be about anyone’s background. Working through cultural diversity needs a thorough take on effective conversations and laying out guidelines on how to do them is already a step taken towards progress.

Mr. Evan Tarver is one more expert contributed to the research. He is a co-founder and CEO of SellingSignals, an online publication for sales growth. Article cover such topics as include lead generation, lead nurturing, deal-closing, sales leadership and more.
At Selling Signals, we encourage negative feedback at all levels, which includes managers delivering negative feedback to their reports as well as reports providing negative feedback to their managers. One of our core values is honesty, and we believe that forgoing negative feedback actually does a disservice to the person who needs to hear it. Everyone deserves a chance to improve, but if they don’t understand the areas in which to focus, improvement is impossible. So, whereas most people think negative feedback is either harsh or unnecessary, we think the opposite in that negative feedback is the best way to learn and grow.
We strongly encourage sharing negative feedback. Still, there is a way to be tactful about negative feedback so the message still lands effectively but isn’t demeaning to the person receiving it. Many think the best way to do this is the “compliment sandwich”, where you give one piece of good feedback, a piece of negative feedback, and then conclude with another piece of positive feedback. However, this runs the risk of coming across as disingenuous and also sugar coats the feedback the person needs to hear and perhaps it won’t land or be heard clearly.
Instead, be honest in your feedback. If you need to provide negative feedback, do it. If you have positive feedback to give, give it. However, a common statistic is people hear negative feedback 5(!) times louder than positive feedback, so you do want to be aware of the amount of negative feedback you’re giving and make sure you’re also giving positive feedback at a higher ratio over time so it feels fair and balanced.
Yes, sharing feedback is customary at our company, but you don’t want to blindside the person. We have dedicated one-on-ones between managers and reports that serve as a safe space to speak your mind and provide feedback in both directions. The best way to do this is to start with a question like, “Hey, I noticed ‘X’ happened, and you responded with ‘Y’. Do you mind we talk about that?” That way, the person is primed for the conversation and doesn’t feel caught off-guard.
If negative feedback needs to be given outside of a traditional one-on-one setting, it is customary to request time to speak with the person you’re giving the feedback to. In this scenario, give the context when requesting the time to chat so the person is primed and aware of the content of the meeting.”

Actually Mr. Tarver mentions an extremely interesting insight that people hear negative feedback 5(!) times louder than positive feedback – and this is why we started the research: negative feedback is perceived not like positive one. Sharing negative feedback is, in fact, one of the soft skills which requires practicing and learning.

One more speaker from the US joined the research: Mr. Roy Morejon, President & Co-Founder of Enventys Partners –  a full-service product launch company that handles all aspects of product development, crowdfunding and ecommerce marketing. Having wide experience in business, Roy describes how they build negative feedback culture in their company:

1. In my country, democracy is pretty much the norm. Relatively and culturally, it seems like we are more able to handle upfront criticism especially if it’s constructive. There are other cultures that are less confrontational and will need different handling. I work in a global environment so I deal with people of diverse cultures in my line of work. As such, I have learned how to adapt depending on the needs of the professional situation at hand. My usual rule of thumb in our company is to be as neutral as possible and stick to the facts or solution-based approaches. It’s sometimes necessary to correct something especially if it harms the business in a major way.
2. It’s not strongly encouraged, but we swallow the bitter pill if it’s truly the needed solution. We are more leaning towards preventive measures than damage control. There is a balance between empowering people to speak their mind freely. Often though we attempt not to make it at the expense of another colleague’s well-being.
3. If the negative feedback is from a rank and file employee to a manager, we usually try our best to keep it anonymous to prevent any fears from holding them back with their honest assessment. This accountability check ensures that our leaders are also evaluated fairly with the same standard as the rest of the employees in the company.
Mr. Muhammad Ali Sangi is currently working as a Digital Marketing Strategist for PureVPN. He is a foodie person and also a die heart football fan. He has been working hard to grow in the field of Marketing. Speaking about the negative culture, he explains that it is more about “honest feedback” instead negative one:
  1. There’s no straight answer to that question since the attitude of both the employees and managers can differ depending on the subject of criticism in addition to the situation in which the criticism has been offered. For the most part, I believe that the more mature employees and managers usually seek to understand where the negative feedback has come from, while those that lack the necessary maturity think of it as personal condemnation rather than professional feedback. Hence, the repercussions of negative feedback can also depend on what kind of employee/manager I’m dealing with.
  2. Well, negativity is strongly discouraged. However, I should clarify that that does not put a leash on the honesty of one’s feedback. Honest feedback that identifies the problems, the causes of those problems, and possible solutions are encouraged across the board. However, things like targeting specific employees, backbiting, and insubordination are generally frowned upon.
  3. Again, it’s not negative feedback but honest feedback. That being said, yes, there are unwritten rules and agreed-upon principles on how an employee can vent their feelings with their managers. The best way for this is the tried and tested one-on-one sessions, preferably in a location where there is a fair bit of privacy.

Even though the USA leads in the number of responses in the research, we still expect more from business professionals in the US. We believe there are even more interesting aspects of negative feedback culture in America, and we can uncover them with your help only. We plan to extend this reaserch by adding negative feedback practices in various regions or states of the US. Please contact us if you can add info about negative feedback culture in the US!

Canada

Mr. Kemp Edmonds – Managing Director at Workplace Culture Index explains:

In Canada, our workplace culture can generally be defined by two principles:

  1. Putting the feelings of others first and 
  2. An indirect communication style. 

These two factors result in a workplace culture that strongly dissuades the use of negative feedback. It may be repositioned as constructive feedback, which focuses not on what’s going wrong (the negative) but rather on the path to doing things correctly. In many cases providing negative feedback to peers or managers can result in an employee ultimately losing their job as this direct style is not generally how organizations and individuals prefer to operate in Canada.

In my place of work, we operate in an environment of professionalism where the personal and professional are almost entirely separate. This creates an environment of trust that allows employees to share negative feedback in an open and transparent way with one another. We strive to remove ego from our professional interactions and professional work to successfully grow our organization. This is a very rare workplace scenario in Canada.

The best way to express negative feedback in Canada is to take the individual’s personal feelings into account and find a way to do it that isn’t direct and potentially hurtful or off-putting. Feedback should be constructive and solution-oriented. What are some ways that we can solve this? Be sure to bring a few solutions with your negative feedback to move forward and resolve the gap that resulted in the negative feedback. Do not wallow in the negative, move on and get things done.

The culture of feedback is always determined by the way that leaders in an organization prefer and decide they want to facilitate it. In a trusted environment of mature professionals feedback (negative and positive) should be something that can be shared freely when there is a positive and solutions-focused output.

Here at Code Inspiration we truly agree with the last statement provided by Mr. Kemp Edmonds. In fact, there is always some country-specific culture of communication, however, business leaders and top managers are capable of building such a professional communication and sharing feedback culture which will benefit both company’s growth and employees’ professional self-development. 

The next speaker from Canada, Ms. Jennifer Harder – Founder & CEO of Jennifer Harder Mortgage Brokers, is of the same opinion. As a business leader, she does her best to build an efficient feedback culture in the team which affects the working environment and business success positively:

At my company, we feel that delivering negative feedback with an open and honest approach is always the best approach. Even if the employee realizes that their performance has fallen short of expectations, being upfront, honest, and forthcoming is critical. Avoid sugar coating unfavorable performance, but don’t avoid discussing them either. Have the confidence to communicate openly about their below-par performance and display a willingness to assist them solve their issues so they may progress. If you are open about your feedback and are ready to help your employees, you will likely find that they are more responsive to your input. Admitting the truth not only helps to resolve the situation, but it helps to enhance the connections you have established with your employees, as well as instill a positive work environment.

Ms. Jennifer Foster is a Managing Editor for Authority Astrology – a website where you can find up-to-date advice and practical tips for modern dating. Mr. Foster also describes aspects of effective manager-employee communication and feedback sharing:

The most effective method of conveying negative criticism is through a supportive conversation. Because constructive criticism provides both the issue and the remedy, it is the most effective method of delivering negative feedback. Rather than merely reprimanding workers for their conduct, explain the consequences of their behavior and why change is critical. Prior to meeting with the employee, develop a comprehensive plan outlining how the person can improve and provide a clear timetable.

Concentrate your comments on observable actions rather than on the employee’s qualities and attributes. Specific examples and demonstrations of proper conduct are required. Employees are less likely to take constructive criticism personally if you hold them accountable for their behavior and have a strategy on how to proceed. 

So what we see after several inputs from Canadian experts is that it is very important not to get personal when delivering feedback. It turns out that probably a business owner or CEO has to be an excellent negotiator to be able to deliver negative-constructive feedback to a team-member and at the same time don’t get personal. And this is a skill to be trained, isn’t it??

Dennis Hancock, President & CEO of Mountain Valley MD, biotech company, continues telling about negative feedback culture in Canada. The response is made in the form of questions and answers:

Q: What is the attitude to negative feedback in your country or company? Is it prohibited or strongly encouraged?

A: Negative feedback is accepted in Canada, but most management and team members expect the feedback to be constructive in nature, not aimlessly complaining. The best managers strongly encourage honesty and open communication within their team. It can be tough to maneuver some of those situations, but it’s the only way toward productive collective growth.

Q: Is it customary at your place of work or in your country to express negative feedback to managers, as well as all the other team members, and if so, what are the best ways to express negative feedback, do you have any agreed procedure for this?

A: In Canada, workplaces have more egalitarian cultures than hierarchical, so feedback from staff to management and other team members is welcomed and expected, along with showing initiative. 

Though Canadians welcome honest feedback, many expect it to be communicated more softly, often wrapped into a conversation with positive feedback. *This delivery method softens the blow and acknowledges the good along with the areas that need work. If the negative feedback is minor, it can be sent by email or mentioned in passing, but any serious critical feedback is usually addressed in formal meeting

Mr. Mike Sheety, Director of That Shirt – a shirt design service known for high-quality printing and great customer service based across Canada.

Nobody likes to hear criticism, but I think we can’t go forward without looking back at the moment, and feedback plays a big role. In my company, feedback provided needs to be polite, objective and argumentative, and only then is it more than welcome.

Negative feedback at first can be a shock, but it is a good guideline that we need to think about and decide how to fix the situation, how to correct the feedback.

For example, negative feedback about an employee’s rude behavior is more than helpful, or a remark that relates to something we in the company may not even notice. Any feedback is helpful and gives us an opportunity to progress.

Unfortunately, it can be said that negative feedback is present, but we do not encourage any negative feedback that is based on emotions, including personal attacks. Everyone here has the right to speak, including something that is not nice to hear at first, but everyone as well have the right to defend themselves and their position.

I think that the best approach is to acknowledge employees as valuable capital. That they have the right to express themselves, which employers should allow them to do anonymously. Believe me, you would be surprised how useful information we received from workers anonymously can be for the employer and the business as a whole.

Mr. Charles Leduc, Chief Operations Officer at Mold Busters, home decontamination services company. Charles opinion is that negative feedback is to be delivered tactfully, and accompanied with some positive feedback:

Is it possible to give negative feedback tactfully, and genuinely? Negative feedback isn’t prohibited or encouraged in Canada. However, negative feedback can always carry consequences. I learned very quickly after I entered the business world that some have very fragile egos, and I adapted by learning to tell the truth while being both tactful and genuine. This is a very delicate balance. There is no room for insincerity in these situations. Something else that must be considered carefully is the timing, and the individual. Negative feedback is best softened by having positive feedback to accompany it, and should always be expressed privately.

As you can see, Charles pays attention to the so-called sandwich method of negative feedback delivery, many business professionals declared that this technique is commonly used in America and later you will see also many business experts talking about it. And you will also see that the sandwich method is actively criticized in many countries outside the US, because people dislike its sense that might lead to certain misunderstanding. 


Australian negative feedback culture

We have some negative feedback culture insights from Australia. Mr. Navarre Trousselot – CEO of Navexa says: 

Australians are very honest and straightforward and they appreciate the same treatment in return. In that sense, honest feedback is always welcome. However, Australians are generally supportive and friendly people so the feedback is always very constructive, even if it’s negative. Our goal is to present all the facts objectively, but nobody is holding grudges for that. We simply call things by their name.

When it comes to policies for giving feedback, there’s no strict rules, but we do have our established habits. The most important thing is that everybody’s opinion matters, therefore people can all comment on each other. Of course, we don’t just randomly criticize things we know nothing about, but we also don’t feel inferior to supervisors in terms of expressing our opinions. Communication goes both ways and it’s important to constantly exchange thoughts and reflections.

Ms. Rachel Klaver is the second speaker from Australia. She is a Co-founder, Marketing Strategist at Identify Marketing – digital marketing services company. 

Giving feedback is unpleasant because you’re trying to bring change to something we’re already used to. But these changes are necessary for growth, and you need to make everyone understand that this is nothing personal. This is where we’re at right now. We’re still trying to avoid a confrontation. We’re still trying to avoid giving feedback until it’s required. But at least we have a standard in place that can make this unpleasant process become natural in the future. Just like yours, we dread the idea of giving feedback because it might create a stir in our peaceful environment. We try to go with the flow and minimize disruptions. But there are times when push comes to shove. We always keep in mind that feedback should always be done at the right time and place. There is always a positive way of providing feedback so that it becomes effective.


Negative feedback culture in Asia

Negative feedback culture. Urban street landscape photo

Hong Kong

Kitty Yeung Downer opens the section about negative feedback culture in Asia. She is an International Speaker and Mentor focusing on C-suites executives

For Hong Kong, most Asian countries and in the Middle East, feedback isn’t so commonly given, both negative or positive. In general, negative feedback from top-down is acceptable, when done in private or in front of others, whilst bottom-up isn’t. Culturally, it’s not right to challenge anyone who is at a more senior level, at work or in life in general even when they are wrong. However, many employees do welcome and in fact want feedback when done constructively, with the senior, same level or junior colleagues.

Recently, I facilitated a feedback session, focusing on cultivating curiosity and awareness of Self, with a Thai management team and a Swiss CEO. Culturally, it’s not a common practice to say anything negative about an individual in front of others in Thailand. However, the management team had expressed that they would love to work in a company with open communication and high transparency in the policy.

Similar to many other Asian cultures, very few people will take the lead to make that change even when they are in senior management. But when someone steps up and takes the lead, many are more than happy to be a part of it.

The evaluation feedback was fantastic with almost two-thirds of them (57.1%) rated it Excellent and the remaining one-third (42.9%) rated it as Good. And all of them (100%) responded that they would recommend the workshop to others. When I followed up with the HR Director after the workshop, he said they wanted to roll out the same workshop to all employees.

The results from that workshop, and others I conducted, clearly show that feedback is welcomed and often appreciated when done in a constructive manner. When the focus is on improving Self, not just for the job we do, it is highly beneficial and valued by many.

Japan

Ms. Rowena Murakami, Co-Founder and master chef of Tiny Kitchen Divas Blog. Rowena has 20+ years of experience and has much to share on this topic.

I have always believed that feedback is a gift. Like any gift, there is no guarantee you will like it, but the giver should always have the receiver in mind. As a receiver of feedback, I will always think of what I can do with the feedback to improve myself. As a giver, I will need to tailor-fit it to the receiver so that it is received well. I strongly believe feedback is mandatory for the survival of any company, so integrating it to your company’s culture is crucial.

As a giver of feedback, always remember this: honesty without tact is just cruelty. “That presentation was a disaster” definitely sounds better as “In the next presentation, let’s try to slow down and allot more time to Q&A”. Make your feedback action oriented.

In the global setting, be conscious of the cultures. Europeans and Americans tend to be more outspoken compared to their Asian counterparts, so be mindful in phrasing your feedback especially in a public setting.

You can also make feedback a two-way street by proactively asking for it. For example, if you are a manager talking to your direct report, make it a part of your 1-1 conversations to ask, “Is there anything I can improve on? How can I help you better?” After the town halls with executives you can ask them if that was helpful, or have them answer the feedback survey that follows.

Korea

There is something interesting to know about feedback culture in South Korea. Mr. Christopher Rither running Ideas For Better Living website, lived in the US, California and moved to Korea where he works as a professor at a local university. Christopher uncovers not only aspects of corporate feedback culture in Korea, but also explains how it takes place in a university environment.

Korea’s recent historical industrial and economic growth was chiefly established by its Chaebol (Large family-run conglomerates).When you add to that the heavy influence of Confucianism (emphasis on family and deep respect for age and authority) many Korean companies have a high degree of centralization and vertical hierarchy. Thus, all feedback flows through numerous channels along the hierarchical chain.

It was widely known and accepted that feedback only starts at the top. Why would any subordinate question those in authority? Thus,rarely did anyone at the bottom have an opportunity to express feedback, since marching orders always came from the top. However, recently there have been numerous articles about companies needing to modify the organizational structure to keep up with the fast-moving changes in international trade.

Regarding universities, although they are trying to change, it’s mostly in regard to students’ feedback to professors and faculty. For example, when it comes to feedback (either positive or negative) from student to teacher, our university now offers both midterm and end-of-semester evaluations. Our ability to be rehired is heavily dependent on positive evaluations by students.

However, when it comes to negative feedback for staff and faculty our options are limited. Basically, our department professors can give negative feedback to the headteacher who may or may not relay it to a department supervisor. Then, they may or may not relay it to the college dean who may or may not pass it up to the various administrators along the way. Our deans only serve two years which makes any meaningful change difficult.

In the end, most of us don’t even bother anymore.  Although our university seems to be waking up after the Covid-19 chaos with more things moving digital and the university starting to ask for our opinions to help improve the educational needs of our students.

Haven’t you noticed that this is the first time when we face a direct dependence from feedback to someone’s career development? – This practice is applied to professors in Korean universities according to Mr. Rither’s explanation. 

Mr. Rither concludes his input with a very vital and probably universal statement:

“In the end, the acceptance and commonality of negative feedback are highly dependent on various societal, cultural,and economic implications around the world. It seems especially true in more non-western cultures.”

Singapore

We could not ignore Singapore with its feedback culture and are glad that there are several responses from there. Ms. Olivia Tan is a co-founder of CocoFax, a new startup company from Singapore, an all-in-one online fax solution provider dedicated to smarter business communications, is opening the section about Singapore with her response: 

In my company, negative feedback is strongly encouraged. That’s not saying employees should pick on each other. But if the behaviour is getting in the way of the company’s work and productivity, then there has to be a feedback to the concerned employee.

What are the best ways to express negative feedback? – Here’s how I try to give negative feedback to my employees. These are the few things I keep in mind: 

  1. Negative remarks should not be wrapped in praise. The traditional compliment/critique/compliment might provide a misleading impression of how someone is doing. Two positives outnumber one negative, implying that the performance was effective
  2. Make Sure the Criticism is Constructive. Identifying the issue and devising a strategy to address it is a strong development technique. Assist the person in avoiding the same blunder while learning a new behavior or better approach.
  3. Follow up on a regular basis. It’s not enough to acknowledge that there’s a problem and then move on. Make a growth plan that includes frequent meetings. Provide direction and have the individual affirm the measures they’ve done, the training they’ve received, and whether the outcome has improved. Except if the person is your boss.
  4. Be real and honest. Because we are typically aware of our shortcomings, the comments should come as no surprise. Make it obvious that you want to help the person rather than criticize them.

So, we have one more business professional who disagrees with the sandwich method commonly used in the US feedback culture because “Two positives outnumber one negative, implying that the performance was effective”. Further in this research you will see other business pros explaining disadvantages of the sandwich method.

Here is one more response from Singapore. Mr. Eden Cheng – marketing director and founder of WeInvoice, a software technology company. Eden says about the transparent feedback culture they managed to build in their company as well as to ensure employees’ professional growth on the basis of feedback:

My company has taken a robust approach to give negative feedback positively. Managers and leaders know that harsh feedback is more counterproductive. Therefore, they prefer to deliver negative feedback respectfully. However, as per the company policy, managers are aware of our underperformance. So, they remain honest and sincere while giving feedback. They clarify why we are provided negative ones and how we can improve, rather than shouting at us.

On the other hand, managers do a regular follow-up. They create a development plan with daily meet-ups. Therefore, offer absolute guidance and ask us to confirm the steps that we have implemented as a team. The training evaluation and whether it has improved or not help boost trust and strong relationships for future feedback. Besides, while giving negative feedback, employers need to be direct, listen to you, and ask questions before speaking and considering the terms. They focus on the job more than the individual. That’s why they can better explain our implications of activities and offer robust ways for improvement. So, they choose to be open while giving negative feedback.

There is one more response from a Singaporean business professional. Spoiler: she also disagrees with the sandwich approach). Ms. Caroline Lee, the co-founder of CocoSign, a software development company:

We have built that perception amongst us that we are the best at what we do, but we still leave that tinny window for correction and improvement. Our goal is always to make the best products for our bosses (the market), so we take every feedback seriously, whether positive or negative.

The attitude towards negative is always not as receptive as that towards positive feedback. However, as management, we encourage our team to analyze whatever response to better themselves. A product may look amazing to us, but that’s nothing if the customers reject it; your colleague is always the first customer.

Here is the feedback delivery process that has worked for us all this time;

  1. Before someone gives feedback, they must understand the psychology behind it and how it will impact the receiver. That’s why we have different levels of customer feedback management. We try to analyze and find the best way to get the team responsible. If it’s going up the chain of management, then it must follow the due protocol.
  2. When giving feedback to a colleague, we recommend reframing it as some form of guidance or advice. In most cases, this travels among peers. 
  3. No sandwiching. We encourage a two-step procedure, begin with the correct intention, and execute the process safely, helpfully, and transparently. Then try to be informative, focusing on the potential areas of improvement.

We suppose it is already possible to say that Singapore in general refuses to use the sandwich feedback delivery approach, preferring alternative ways, like, for example, reframing or indirect speech. 

Ms. Miranda Yan, Founder of VinPit, a tech company dedicated to software development. The response is in the form of an interview:

Q: What is the attitude to negative feedback in your country or company?

A: Our company is open to feedback, either positive or negative. We consider Negative feedback vital as it helps us evaluate our performance and informs us of critical adjustments that need to be made. We take into account all forms of genuine, accurate, and direct negative feedback.

Q: Is it prohibited or strongly encouraged? Is it customary at your place of work or in your country to express negative feedback to managers and all the other team members, and if so, what are the best ways to express negative feedback? Do you have any agreed procedure for this?

A: It is highly recommended. However, negative comments can be addressed to managers and team members about our service, not just claiming fraudulent acquisitions about the company or our employees. False acquisitions will result in legal action on our end. Negative feedback we agreed upon is that:

  1. Honest and sincere – it must be a verified user’s feedback, not random persons who have no idea what our company does.
  2. It should be about the service, not just a critique of our company’s practices.
  3. The comments should be delivered clearly and directly to our employees without being harsh or insensitive. Send an email as a follow-up if necessary to clarify the issues addressed.
  4. Any feedback should be sent to our company’s website, mailed, or delivered in person. We don’t encourage individuals to take their frustrations out on our workers.

Mr. Bowen Khong, founder and CEO of ForexToStocks – an online trading brokerage research firm that helps retail investors find trusted online trading brokerage and platforms. Bowen says that everybody knows that feedback generates improvement. Feedback is an essential part of your day-to-day work. Without it, you’ll stagnate and be left behind. 

We’re trying to build a culture that takes criticism constructively. We try to standardize the process so that everyone can do it correctly. The critical key here is to do it constantly and consistently. We are not there yet but hoping that the transition will come soon. We first need to instill professionalism throughout the company. Respect is vital to make sure no one oversteps their boundaries. A lot of conflicts can occur when providing feedback, so we make sure that everything is in order by creating these basic foundations. We have them in place now, and we’re just waiting for the natural flow of things to take effect. Great feedback that’s done correctly will push our company towards growth and success.

Well, Bowen is in progress with some organizational changes aimed at establishing a “constant and consistent” feedback sharing process in the team. So, in fact organizations can’t simply start and make every team member share feedback, both positive and negative, this is a long process of building a relevant culture which requires significant continuous efforts.

Mr. Takeshi Yoshida, Chief Coach of Agile Organization Developmenta group of agile coaches, Scrum Masters, Design Thinkers, Lean practitioners, and ICF (International Coach Federation) leadership and team coaches who develop and delivers learning intervention solutions for the many challenges that organizations face around  organizational change, agile and digital transformation, and innovation programs.

Mr. Yoshida allowed us to use some information from his article Authentic Conversations and the Art of Feedbacking, where Mr. Yoshida considers the use of feedbacking models integral to helping leaders and teams learn better feedbacking conversations:

For example, Kim Scott’s Radical Candor model is effective in finding the right strength of feedback that doesn’t come across as too aggressive nor hesitant, and our FFF, or Feed Forward Formula – the model brings the focus to positive feedbacking. Most popular though is CALM, Curious Active Listening Mindset, a feedbacking model that helps people from the tendency to provide overly corrective feedback by reminding that feedback is a conversation.

Have a look at Mr. Yoshida’s article to learn more about feedback models or check the following video: 

Vietnam

Mr. Tim Sutton, owner of a coffee blog and a digital marketing agency. Tim has had a brief working experience with a young company while staying in Hanoi, Vietnam. Since most of the colleagues were young adults, Tim can’t say whether it’s the same for the older working demographic there:

They were generally welcome to negative feedback, as long as they’re appropriately communicated in terms of subject, word choice, and attitude.

It’s encouraged to deliver constructive criticism along with some suggestions or an open discussion about ways to improve. 

There weren’t really any procedures to give feedback, but there were definitely unwritten rules that everyone was aware of. And, feedback giving works all ways: manager to employee and vice versa and from one team member to another.

Managers can have a talk with the employees at any time. But for employees, unless it’s urgent, they usually give feedback to managers when it’s the designated evaluation time, at the end of the day/half-day, or during lunch breaks.

Thailand

Mr. Francesco Diomaiuta – CEO of My Golf Heaven and VP of HR with a Thai fintech conglomerate shares insights on how traditional “Save Face Culture” meets western way of doing business: 

Well, Asia is known for its Save Face Culture. That means that you are supposed to avoid sensitive topics and never be confrontational if it makes your superiors or even peers look bad. You can imagine, that doesn’t really mix well with giving feedback!

It takes time and effort for an organization to build a culture and environment that allows employees to give feedback without fearing repercussions. You need to start small; Give feedback as regularly as you can, make it clear that even if you’re their superior, you don’t know all the answers, take steps to build a culture based on open communication andcandor.

Thailand is developing quickly and you have many foreign-educated professionals entering the workforce. Since they are more westernized and have studied abroad, where feedback is more common, they usually don’t appreciate working in an environment where saving face is a big thing. Bringing in people that are used to giving and receiving feedback is a great start to establishing a culture that promotes candor and feedback.

India

Mr. Keshu Keshvala, Chief Marketing officer at TechAvidus software development company explains that they automate feedback-related operations in their company:

New Zealand

Mr. Ted Liu, Founder & CEO of Just SEO tells about feedback culture in New zealand, Looks like it is somehow similar to the one in the US:

Any type of input is considered valuable in our firm. As a result, we encourage everyone to give them if they feel compelled to do so. We believe that employee feedback can help us improve our system and the company as a whole. This is why everyone here can freely give input, even if it is a negative one.

We promote this by providing numerous chances for input. We do one-on-one performance reviews and ask them to participate in surveys. We emphasize the freedom employees have to both give and receive feedback using these ways.

As per our experience, we have seen that when giving and receiving feedback, especially the negative ones, it helps to stay within the professional bounds of business. When receiving feedback, it is best not to take things personally so you’ll not be offended. On the other hand, when giving feedback, it is ideal to be careful with your word choices as well as your tone to avoid getting into unnecessary arguments.

Israel

Mr. Alexandra Syrma informs how they deal with negative feedback in Israel and what features of national character and mentality affect it:

Israelis are open and straightforward, and at the same time, they are no more tactless than people in other countries. Therefore, criticism is readily expressed, but if the situation is such that criticism can damage someone’s reputation, or offend a person because it is expressed publicly, then the Israelis most likely are aware of this and express it personally. This topic deals with emotional intelligence, which differs among different segments of the population in any country. The average Israelis are quite intelligent in this regard. People who are “boiling” often criticize publicly, giving a piece of mind, and they no longer look at others. So, Israelis do not tend to accumulate grievances until they will give a piece of mind to someone (in Hebrew it is called – “keep in the stomach”).

Therefore, I did not face scandals, screams, abuse at work. It is generally not accepted to raise your voice at employees, criticize them and scold them so that everyone can hear.


Negative feedback culture in the Gulf Region countries

Negative feedback culture. A photo of two Arabic businesswomen

Mr. Yousef Alkhumairi is an expert from Kuwait. He says about polite and private negative feedback sharing:

In general, if we want to give negative feedback or criticism to someone about what they are doing, it should be expressed:

  1. Politely
  2. Avoiding giving negative feedback in front of other team members – negative feedback must be delivered in private.

Sometimes we use the American feedback sharing method with thanking and encouraging a person, then adding “but, “if” you didn’t do it like this was, or “you’d better try this way”.

Yousef also pays attention that how the one shares and gets feedback depends in his/her personality.

Section to be completed. Please contact us if you would like to contribute to the research and talk about negative feedback culture in the countries of the Gulf region. 


Culture of negative feedback in Latin America

Trinidad and Tobago

Mr. Ravi Maharaj is a consultant and geopolitical analyst in Trinidad and Tobago. He shares and extremely interesting negative feedback case:

In the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, negative feedback is not outlawed, but it might as well be given the attitude towards it by our leaders. The Prime Minister of our country, now in his second term, has routinely held press conferences to address negative feedback of his administration, where he openly attacks anyone who criticises his decisions, and has even gone on the record to describe some of these complaints as treasonous. This attitude has trickled down throughout the entire state enterprise, and has even been adopted by the private sector, as it benefits them to have a more compliant workforce.

Further on Ravi proposes some historical analysis for which led to such a situation regarding feedback culture:

Scholars and analysts have attributed this to the fact that our nation only became Independent of the British Monarchy in 1976 when we became a Republic, and as such, much of the population are still tied to the type of colonialism that was prevalent among British settlements. What this means is that, in the minds of many of our citizens, the Government is a direct replacement for the British Crown, and as such, the common individual is not allowed to question the decisions being made at any leadership level.

That being said, Trade Unions and other like bodies have possessed the power in the past, as a result of their collective numbers, to negotiate with government and private industry leaders in favor of the employees’ benefit. For the past decade however, there has been a concerted effort by the government in particular to significantly reduce the bargaining power of the Trade Unions through contract stipulations which prevent certain employees from joining their ranks.

Even the smallest of business owners utilize their power over their employees in a manner similar to those exhibited by the government of my country, thereby preventing any negative feedback, whether it be constructive or otherwise. As an analyst that is active throughout the region, I can tell you that this type of corporate behavior is common among most of the CARICOM nations. It is a part of our heritage and culture that we will have to overcome as a collective, and with time it will eventually change.

Dominican Republic

Ms. Aura Priscel, clinical psychologist, mental health therapist, and contributor to Psychology Degree Guide platform. Her insights on feedback culture from the perspective of the Dominican Republic:

I’ve worked in two educational institutions in the Dominican Republic where the feedback processes were slightly different. In the first company, the feedback came only from management, and both negative and positive feedback was expressed respectfully when necessary. Unfortunately, many employees didn’t see it as constructive feedback but rather as a criticism of their work. Feedback was never given to management. Although it was still a very good work environment, effective feedback was not part of its organizational culture.

In the second educational institution where I worked feedback to management was allowed. As before, however, when management gave feedback to employees many of them interpreted it as a negative criticism of their work and would become demotivated. Similarly, when management received feedback from employees, they usually responded in a negative way.

In these two scenarios the similarities are clear: There was a negative perception of feedback on both sides. Feedback was interpreted as negative criticism rather than constructive advice. However, in the second institution the perception of feedback was beginning to change through training in effective feedback and getting people to talk about and understand what its function truly is.

For management and their reports to give and receive feedback positively and productively, it’s necessary for everyone to be educated about effective feedback. I was witness to the change that occurred in the second institution. While there wasn’t a complete change in perception, many employees became more open to receiving feedback on their performance as they learned how it could help them improve their work.


Negative feedback culture in Africa

Negative feedback culture. A photo of two businessmen from Africa

Nigeria

Tony Martins, online marketer and founder of the media platform Profitable Venture. The platform specialises in entrepreneurship and investment. Tony also runs two other businesses. Tony opens a section dedicated to Africa. 

Feedback culture in Nigeria is still sorely lacking, and often leads to some rather toxic working environments. It’s a big reason why I left an office job to venture into my career of entrepreneurship. People are often highly reluctant to give any feedback at all, especially negative ones. Higher-ups also largely discourage feedback, and often see negative feedback as impertinence. I try to encourage feedback in my own businesses, and try to do so through negative forms, but even then people are extremely reluctant.

Ghana

Mr. James Idayi, CEO of Cloudzat. James believes that promoting a feedback culture in his organization can positively contribute to good teamwork: 

Accepting negative but constructive feedback: We encourage openness in thought expression to promote healthy discussions. Our team welcomes any type of feedback whether positive or negative but constructive. Senior leaders in our team promote a common virtue that none of us are perfect enough that there will always be better than any of us in specific fields. We build a great amount of respect for those who speak up and know that truth will only keep us learned.


Negative feedback culture research – Conclusion

So, let’s try to conclude what we have learned about negative feedback culture after revising 100+ responses from business professionals. We decided to start with some thesis:

  1. Feedback culture varies from country to country. Example: sandwich method of feedback delivery is acceptable in most companies of the US, but is criticized heavily in Singapore. 
  2. Business leaders have to deal with features of national culture and mentality and feedback culture depends heavily on them. Example: feedback delivery is not acceptable from employee to a manager in some Asian countries and in Germany.
  3. Business professionals noticed that negative feedback delivery from a manager to an employee is a common practice everywhere. However, reverse process, that is negative feedback delivery from an employee to a manager is not so simple issue. Responses of business professionals helped us to identify that, in fact, there are 4 deep-seated approaches to this:
    1. Sharing negative feedback with managers is not practiced at all, like in some conservative Asian countries.
    2. Sharing negative feedback with managers is not practiced, but employees sometimes do it, when the only option remaining is to ask for manager’s attention. Like in Arab countries.
    3. Sharing negative feedback is not a usual practice, but is delivered by employees on request only be means of some organizational activities, such as polls, questionnaires, personal or group interviews.
    4. Sharing negative feedback is welcomed and encouraged, but constructive, detail-based way of its expression is expected.
  4. All business leaders in the research agree that negative feedback is needed. They agree that negative feedback from employees shows aspects where a company can improve. Negative feedback means an indication of the growth point. Example: almost any response from a business professional in the research. 
  5. Business leaders are able and many do their best to build a feedback-oriented workflow in their company, regardless of national culture and mentality features. 
  6. Many business professionals understand that feedback is not a one-time action and do their best to apply some continuous procedures for feedback collection in their organizations. Examples of such activities: polls, questionnaires, personal or group interviews.
  7. If business executive decides to build an open and advanced feedback culture in a company, they usually face such challenges as: it is not accepted to share feedback in general, there is no trusting relationship in the team, low soft skills of team members and inability to share negative feedback in a constructive way, without going personal; absence of organizational practices like establishing meetings, feedback sessions, questionnaires. 
  8. But the set of challenges from section 6 varies from region to region. For example in the US, some European countries people are OK with sharing feedback and team members just need soft skills’ development. 
  9. Many executives prefer to use the term “constructive feedback” instead of “negative feedback”.
  10. Negative feedback delivery has already become not just a business operations’ phenomenon, but an area of knowledge, subject of study. Example.
  11. Negative-constructive feedback can be delivered personally, or in front of a group. The majority of business professionals say that personal, 1v1, approach is applied in their companies. Together with this, there are cultures where sharing negative feedback in the presence of other team-members is acceptable, for instance, Netherlands, Western European post-Soviet countries.
  12. Excessive negative feedback and abusing its sharing are not acceptable. An employee is not expected to share negative feedback for any reason. Negative feedback sharing should be prioritized, if there are multiple issues to talk about. And negative feedback is expected to be well-prepared: expressed with the right words and accompanied by a set of facts and relevant employee’s vision and proposals for improvement. Only in this case, feedback can be considered as constructive. For instance, in Asia and Arabian countries negative feedback is delivered carefully, when the necessity to deliver it is overdue and otherwise no longer possible.

Code Inspiration team would also like to share some thoughts that we came to during the research. Please check below and let us know your opinion!

Feedback is becoming an asset?

Taking into account that, in fact, all the business professionals in the research accept that feedback, both positive and negative, is of high value and usefulness for an organisation. So is it possible to consider feedback as a comprehensive asset, like property, finance, investment, data? And if so, then it follows from this that the better feedback is collected, stored, processed in an organization – the better business goes. So, there is a great  challenge to organize such an effective procedure of working with feedback, that it will be beneficial for business. 

Here we mean both feedback from employees, as noted in the research and, from customers and partners.

Feedback is a continious business process

One more aspect we noticed and would like to talk about is the fact that feedback is not something a one-time action. Many business owners and managers mentioned they are doing their best to establish some permanent channels for feedback sharing in their companies. To do this, business pros organize some screenings, polls, questionnaires and so on. But working with feedback is not only about periodic agreed routines such as polls, questionnaires, one-to-one meetings and so on. There are more integral aspects of this process, isn’t it? Among them are:

  • Building a transparent team environment
  • Development of trusting relationship in the team
  • Organizational efforts
  • Development of team members’ skills to formulate thoughts for feedback delivery and generate ideas for addressing issues and so on. 

If they manage to cope with everything this, feedback in an organization really becomes a process and a channel of generating useful and insightful information. In this case  feedback becomes an asset

What’s next?

Well, the research is not over yet actually. If you may probably notice, we still lack information about negative feedback culture in many other regions, but we would love to. We welcome you to share your input. Please contact us and describe negative feedback culture in your country or area. We will revise it and add to the research. Surely, mentioning you as the author, like we did so. Please do not be overpromotional in your responses!

List of countries we need information about negative feedback culture in:

  1. All European countries – even though we have many responses from European countries, we still believe there are more aspects of negative feedback culture to uncover.
  2. Asia: India, China, 
  3. All Nordic countries
  4. All Gulf region countries
  5. Latin America: Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and other countries
  6. Africa: South Africa, Egypt, other countries
  7. Any other country or region. 

Feel free to talk about negative feedback culture in free narrative form. Or use the following questions we asked our interviewees: 

  1. What is the attitude to negative feedback in your country or company? 
  2. Is it prohibited or strongly encouraged? 
  3. Is it customary at your place of work or in your country to express negative feedback, to managers, as well as all the other team members, and if so, what are the best ways to express negative feedback, do you have any agreed procedure for this?

The research accompanies the short aggregated results published by our CBDO Ms. Yulia Koroleva on Forbes Business Development council.