How To Build A Feedback Culture In Your Organization - Part II
Updated: Jul 23
Feedback Preparation for Fast Growing Startups
Getting ready for a feedback session with a team member in fast growing startups has a few stages. There’s the material preparation: both participants filling out an evaluation regarding the current progress and performance of the feedback receiver. Having an employee's job description and experience level in front of you is a helpful way to organize expectations. Simply put, what do I expect from the employee and what can I expect from them?
In every company including fast growing startups, every employee can't be expected to perform at the same level. Not taking that into consideration is a common mistake employers make when delivering feedback. One of the ways to avoid this is to really consider each person and ‘reset’ before each feedback session. That way each employee has an individualized experience.
‘Set to Zero’
Mentally preparing for a feedback session is crucial. Not only to view each feedback receiver uniquely but also to avoid other unconscious biases. A cognitive bias is a term that refers to the little unconscious errors that occur in our brains. They cause us to perceive things in a way that doesn’t necessarily reflect reality. Biases and effects pop up all the time in the workplace and can affect our ability to give objective feedback.
Here are 5 mind tricks that could interfere when giving feedback:
1. Halo effect/horn effect is the inclination we have to perceive someone who has given a positive impression in one area, as an overall good person/positive in other areas. This happens often in fast growing startups and this bias could affect your ability to view a colleague impartially if you’ve only had favorable experiences with them. That is to say, this effect might make it hard to recognize when they have done something wrong, because, in your mind- they’re perfect. The horn effect is the inverse. When someone gives a bad first impression in one area and now you expect only negative results from that person.
2. The ‘Similar-to-Me Bias’ refers to the tendency to connect and feel partial towards people that have qualities or beliefs similar to your own. This bias has an impact on every aspect of a role including, hiring, promotions and even feedback and performance reviews. Managers influenced by this bias might not recognize the achievements of higher-performing employees. Simply because they are ‘different.’
3. Idiosyncratic Rater Bias refers to the unreliability we as humans rate each other, often it's a reflection of ourselves rather than the other person. The idiosyncratic bias appears in the workplace when a feedback giver has their own skills in mind, rather than the receiver's skill set. This could result in giving feedback to someone on a disproportionate level.
4. Confirmation Bias is the psychological tendency to seek out and pinpoint the information that confirms your current opinion or view on something. This bias can make it difficult to drop judgment on someone and give them room to grow. During a feedback meeting, it’s critical to actively listen in order to not hear only what you want to hear.
5. The Bias Blind Spot is a great way to wrap up this list since It’s essentially the bias of seeing how effects and biases impact other people’s judgment but not being able to acknowledge that your own judgment might be impacted as well. Spreading awareness is great, but self-awareness is key!
What Can You Do?
Consider your perception of the feedback receiver before each session and ask yourself:
Do I have positive/negative opinions about this person?
Do I identify with the person in a way, that I don’t with others?
What are their strengths and skill-sets objectively speaking?
Are there any other biases that might affect my ability to deliver reliable feedback?
Taking the time to reflect on the possible cognitive biases and effects that might arise will help you to give better feedback to your colleagues, employees and even your boss. Practicing self-awareness, setting one’s mind and expectations to zero, then actively listening during each session are all essential to creating a positive feedback culture within your team. Read more on How To Perfect Feedback At Work with Psychology from our partner Kununu Engage.