Giving and receiving feedback to and from your high-value independent professionals offers for great opportunities for increased innovation and continuous improvement in the business. Establishing a feedback culture in this talent pool compounds the benefits to the enterprise. Even if you do not (yet) have such a culture in your employee population, creating one among your contractors—ideally in your direct sourcing program—can help extend it across the whole workforce.
Feedback culture is a working environment in which people are encouraged to give and receive feedback and feel safe doing so. The meaning of “feedback” in this context encompasses individuals, teams, managers, leaders, processes, and the business as a whole. Such a culture must be strategically planned, with norms in place, to be most effective.
The benefits of creating a feedback culture in your direct sourcing program include:
- Enhancing your status as a Client of Choice
- Strengthening your independent professional value proposition
- Retaining high-value independents because of the extra value they get from working with you
- Identifying new opportunities based on contractor experience
- Pinpointing process inefficiencies and workflow redundancies
- Improving processes and workflows
- Unearthing obstacles to efficiency and productivity
- Increasing intra- and inter-team collaboration
- Future-proofing your workforce and business
5 Components of a Feedback Culture
Though feedback is technically part of the “ongoing support” of a direct sourcing program, there’s no need to wait until your program is fully established. You can design and rollout feedback mechanisms for your independent talent network at any point, then dovetail them with your direct sourcing program later. And the sooner the better, so you can begin seeing the benefits of creating a feedback culture in your contingent worker population.
These five components of feedback culture are roughly in the order that they could be rolled out:
Often when people think “feedback,” they think of criticism and how to deliver it palatably. Positive acknowledgments may only serve to soften the blow of the coming negative input by being delivered first. Start today to separate positive from negative feedback and, if possible, offer at least twice as much positive input. Such acknowledgments can still serve as a blow-softener, but they should also stand on their own
Safety is created in an environment of trust. When people know that their feedback will be received without any kind of retribution or other form of blowback, they feel safe in giving it. Focus on creating safety in your direct sourcing program for both independent talent and managers.
3. Multiple Mechanisms
Define more than one way to allow feedback. In addition to live one-on-one conversations, set up online feedback pathways (e.g., through a Slack channel). Send out polls to independent talent and managers periodically to get feedback about specific aspects of the working environment. Set up an easy way for managers, employees, and other independents to give a “job well done!” shout out to someone.
4. Acknowledgement and Action
The “acknowledgement” of this component is about acknowledging the receipt of valuable feedback. Take action on feedback that offers beneficial business results and make sure your independent talent know they are being listened to and making a difference.
5. Continuous Improvement
This component is about continuous improvement of your feedback culture. Set up metrics that give you insight into how well aspects of the culture are working. Use findings to adjust feedback mechanisms, further train managers and workers, and gauge how feedback from your direct sourcing program is impacting the enterprise.