Those who implement feedback meetings successfully are noticing some interesting trends and unforeseen benefits in the workplace. As a result, the principles of a good feedback session are now being translated into non-physical contexts to benefit teams who work remotely too.
Feedback Fridays are rapidly growing in popularity, and consequently, teams are getting stronger and processes are becoming more streamlined. But what is Feedback Friday, and how does it help? Wonder no longer, you’re about to find out! Plus, we have some fun Feedback Friday ideas to make it less of a chore. But, first things first...
What is Feedback Friday?
Honest, constructive feedback is hard to come by, especially in the workplace, where jobs and reputations are on the line. Further, when there are personal elements at play, it can be hard to separate the sense of blame from the sense of wanting to improve the situation.
However, feedback is becoming recognized as an essential part of many processes in the workplace, and attempts are being made to facilitate it regularly as a way of making things run more smoothly.
With an increased focus on improving systems and workflows, companies are turning to their staff and colleagues to help them identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and unnecessary complications at work.
Gathering a selection of volunteers for feedback sessions has become more and more popular as the benefits of this feedback become evident. With proper planning, it can be factored easily into any project as a component of improvement for the processes involved.
Essentially, Feedback Friday is a constructive meeting of relevant teams and team members to discuss what has happened, what’s about to happen, and how the mistakes or inefficiencies of the past can be fixed to benefit the future.
Of course, when people are involved, there’s a chance for disruption and negativity, but if the process is well managed, Feedback Friday is not only a venue for constructive criticism but also a powerful team builder and facilitator of employee engagement.
In fact, the more we learn about the benefits of improvement meetings like Feedback Friday, the more it becomes obvious that modern processes of almost any kind need to start implementing them as an essential part of the process.
The name suggests that it’s held at the end of a working week, but with the rise in hybrid work environments, Feedback Fridays are occupying much more than a side office on a Friday afternoon.
Now, the concept of regular, scheduled feedback is spreading to remote work environments too. In some cases, this makes the concept of meeting on Friday afternoons more arbitrary (something we will discuss shortly), but regardless of where and when the feedback meetings are held, they still hold significant power for positive change. This power comes not only from the feedback itself but the way it is facilitated and managed.
The Importance of Constructive Feedback and Responding to Feedback
Feedback in its simplest terms is a review of the quality of a situation. The feedback itself can come from either constructive or destructive motivations, and so navigating this in the workplace can be a skill that takes some practice.
Most people take pride in their work and their position, regardless of how good they are at the job, and can react defensively when they’re told that something they’ve done needs to be worked on, especially when that feedback comes from someone of the same perceived rank as them.
Therefore, constructive, professional feedback needs to be taught, encouraged, and facilitated at feedback meetings. Separating the complaints and criticisms that people may have for an individual from the areas in which the process can be improved is typically a matter of taking the person out of the equation and focusing on the project itself.
Good feedback practices are an exercise in continuous improvement, and this means that everyone involved should be using it as an opportunity to fix issues, rather than simply expressing their distaste for them. Once this is understood, regular feedback meetings can go ahead with everyone working together toward the same goal.
Factoring in regular feedback meetings serves a number of important processes amongst the team, which we will go into in more detail in the next section, but once this feedback is coming in, it needs to be addressed.
To maintain a healthy feedback culture, there needs to be some visible adjustment, at least where it’s possible. As important as the feedback itself, is a clear impression that the feedback is serving a purpose and actually improving the situation, and this is where responses are so critical.
For positive feedback, this is generally quite easy. It’s a matter of staying humble, displaying gratitude, and welcoming future criticisms as a way of improving your process. For negative feedback, this can be a little trickier. If the feedback isn’t constructive, a response needs to lead the dialog to a more constructive place. Ask for more information, ask for suggestions on how things could have been handled better.
Once you have constructive feedback, let the person know whether it’s helpful or not, and if not, why specifically it can’t work. If so, set out plans to act on it. Either way, make sure the feedback is acknowledged, appreciated, and considered.
Why Friday Feedback?
You might be wondering why this is all so important, and why feedback Friday can’t be feedback Monday, or Wednesday. Well, the second question is nice and easy to answer. While Feedback Friday isn’t exactly arbitrary, it’s not set in stone either. Fridays aren’t the only day to run feedback meetings on, but they do have two advantages:
For most people, Friday represents the end of the working week. This is a good opportunity to carve out some afternoon time just for gathering and assessing the previous week as it played out. From there, it’s possible to plan the following week with the feedback received and implement any agreed-up adjustments going ahead.
For people coming to the end of their week, feedback meetings might be more relaxed, less rushed, and more amicable. If Friday isn’t the end of the week for your staff, of course, you can consider running these meetings on another day, but you will have to sacrifice the cool use of alliteration in the name; the second reason to run Feedback Fridays.
Fridays are still relevant to remote workers, too, so assigning a period for Friday afternoon can tick a lot of boxes, regardless of your office work model. Ultimately though, feedback sessions are best at the end of a period of time.
If your office works from Tuesday to Saturday they’d be better held on Saturday. If you have shifts, it might be worth considering implementing one for each of the shift leaders or aiming to time it for a handover period so most people who want to be involved can make it.
Now onto the first question...
Why are feedback meetings are so important?
Workplace feedback comes with some fantastic benefits to your teams, and while some are obvious, the full range of improvements of regular feedback meetings is still being discovered. Take a look at these:
- Teams provide useful feedback – this is the first and most obvious perk, and we’ve covered most of why it’s useful in the previous section. Solving problems is the primary reason to run feedback meetings.
- It increases engagement – Expressing this feedback is a collaborative event that involves management and their teams coming together to be heard on an equal footing. This is an act of transparency; something that inspires trust in the workforce.
- It’s a controlled environment – This means people who have issues or ideas they may struggle to bring forward can be fostered and provided with a safe space to express them. Weekly sessions prevent these issues from ever building up for too long, releasing tension before it reaches dangerous levels.
- It’s a team building exercise – If run well, and managed carefully, these feedback sessions become an exercise in team building, which promotes collaboration in other aspects of the team’s work. The openness and engagement qualities of the meetings extend into the following weeks and create more intimate and considerate working relationships between people who feel like they’re respected.
So, the cascade of effects of Feedback Fridays goes well beyond the primary purpose of the meeting itself, but how to begin? Here are some ways you might be able to implement some Friday Feedback ideas into your workplace.
How to Factor in Fun Feedback Friday Ideas with Hybrid Work
With shift work, and more people running hybrid office environments, it’s not as straightforward anymore to pull together a group of like-minded people at the same time in the same place for the sharing of feedback.
If you do have the opportunity to call people in for Friday meetings in the physical realm, then here are some fun suggestions for how to run the group. These should help prevent the meetings from becoming a routine chore or a forum for gossip or complaining.
- Form a Quiz – This can be on a google sheet or your intranet platform. Factor in a couple of feedback questions you’ll cover at the Friday meeting, but populate a short quiz with it, so that it’s fun to fill out, and there can be a token reward for getting the best score when the results are discussed in the meeting.
- Casual dress – This is another way to have people arrive at the feedback meeting more relaxed and open to suggestions. When people can wear their own clothes, they’re may feel safer and more outgoing, and this can create a more constructive atmosphere for the meetings.
- Bring snacks – Again, this creates a less formal atmosphere where people can let their guard down and become more open. While feedback is critically important, it’s hard to find when the atmosphere is too tense or formal. Designing your meetings to encourage members to relax goes a long way to reaching the honesty in their message.
These all work for the office environment, but if you need to run it remotely, there are still some good options. Again, they solve the issue of a sterile or uninspiring environment by injecting some light-hearted energy. Here are three suggestions for remote-working environments:
- Feedback Friday poll - Set up a poll, similar to the weekly quiz above, but on platforms that are designed for remote work, and host updates and reports on the feedback on the same platform. Again, it’s a good idea to have a couple of feedback-related questions that you need to address in the meeting, but throw in some fun ones too. Polls can give an overview of which ideas are most popular, or allow people to vote on some of the suggested changes from previous meetings.
- Group calls – This is as much of a “do not” as it is a “do” to make remote meetings more fun. When running remote group calls for feedback Fridays, keep in mind ‘Zoom fatigue’. It’s important not to force workers to be on camera more than necessary, and if zoom calls are a common thing among your remote workers, let Feedback Fridays provide a respite from this. Consider running voice-only rooms for the Friday feedback sessions.
- Use Team Shoutouts by CultureBot – This Slack App promotes the sharing of honest, positive feedback with a team in a public setting on a regular basis. It can even be setup for feedback to be requested from teammates every Friday, all the while providing a space for constrictive discussions, fun polls, and detailed feedback while allowing for asynchronous communication inside of Slack.
Now you’ve got a grip on the why and the how, it’s about time to set some ground rules for avoiding gossip, lowering defenses, and promoting the most engagement in your Feedback Friday meetings.
Feedback Friday Best Practices
Remember that the primary goal is to get constructive feedback from your members. And, as we’ve discussed, the best way to do this is to create a comfortable environment to criticize the process, rather than the person. Here are some of our Feedback Friday best practices to help you on your way:
- Keep it casual – This has been covered a lot, but it’s worth repeating. The space in which you hold your Friday Feedback meetings – whether on Fridays or otherwise – needs to be comfortable and relaxed, and the attitudes need to be light-hearted and encouraging.
- Keep it brief – one way to prevent tension building is to keep the meeting short. Specifically, the professional element of the meeting should be limited to one or two topics that need to be addressed. This allows for the meeting to stay fresh and relatively fun while mixing in some productive work.
- Talk with people, not at them – This is a collaborative effort, and should be dispelling any images of authority. Engagement is maximized when everyone is treated as equals and suggestions are presented, not dictated.
- Encourage, don’t enforce – On that topic, don’t force people to talk, or press for more information than they’re willing to give. The focus should always be on facilitating a space in which ideas come up organically and nobody leaves with a bad association.
- Provide anonymous options – Some people won’t want to talk, and that’s ok. It’s good to have people there for ideas on how to respond to the feedback, even if they don’t have any themselves. And for those who may be uncomfortable sharing certain things, provide an anonymous option on whichever approach you’re using.
- Keep track of the feedback – If you’re collecting only a small amount of feedback each time, this will make it easier to keep track of and act upon. Remember the importance of responding to the feedback with acknowledgments and implementing good ideas in a timely manner to make sure attendees to Friday Feedback meetings feel heard. To be able to do this well, you’ll need to have a process of recording, categorizing, and actioning feedback.
Essentially, all best practices for Feedback Friday sessions revolve around providing a low-pressure environment and acting on what comes out of it. Low pressure means short, fun, and rewarding sessions that don’t force anything and are prepared to respond constructively.
It’s clear why Feedback Fridays are growing in popularity. The opportunity for improving internal processes is an obvious advantage to factoring regular feedback meetings into your workflows, but Feedback Fridays are responsible for even more benefits than this.
Increased engagement, lower tensions, and improved team collaboration are all that may be considered positive side-effects of creating a safe and comfortable space for employees to express themselves and be heard.
As a result, bumping Feedback Fridays up from a non-essential event to a critical component of your processes may help you iron out many creases that are forming among your teams and within your processes.
Whether remote or in person, Feedback Fridays have the ability to boost productivity and raise morale, as well as fine-tune your processes; all of which create a profitable and pleasant company to work in.