What we’ve learned from boosting the feedback culture at Divante

Care to share?

In recent times, feedback culture has become quite a popular phrase that’s underlined by many leaders and companies. We all know how important it is to openly talk with each other no matter what position or what role you’re in. Many of us count on instant feedback and treat it as a way to improve our skills or broaden our knowledge. Thanks to such important information, we can get a full picture of how our teammates perceive us and our work. All that can serve as confirmation that we do our job well and as a guideline to improve in areas that require some attention. Another advantage of feedback is the opportunity to see new perspectives for self-development. 

It may seem like feedback culture is an essential part of employee management. But how can we build awareness of its importance? Should we start with leaders by engaging them and focusing on strengthening their feedback skills? Lastly, what benefits does it bring to employees?

These are just a few of the crucial questions we asked ourselves at Divante in order to turn the “feedback culture” buzzwords into reality. 

Building feedback culture in Divante: kickoff  

At the very beginning of the process, we wanted to gather knowledge about feedback practices within the entire company. Some leaders have already taken part in feedback training conducted by the HR department, and others based their feedback practices on their previous experiences. Each HR Business Partner gathered information from their leaders about their best practices and ways of giving feedback. 

“Prior to the workshops, I met with each leader in my practice to discuss the way they prepare and give feedback. I was very positively surprised by how much effort they put into collecting and analyzing feedback as well as preparing and conducting the individual sessions with employees. What I noticed, though, was the lack of tools they could all use in order to keep their feedback notes consistent as well as some differences in their experience. We needed to create a space where they could compare the ways they conduct feedback, discuss difficult cases, and share experiences.”

Alicja Wójtowicz, HRBP team

Once we gathered all the organizational information, we started to plan workshops for the leaders. We had a group of around 60 people and we wanted to offer them something that would let them build off the level of knowledge they already had as well as gain a new set of skills and tools. We decided to kick off with some feedback basics. That step allowed us to introduce the most useful practices to our new leaders and, at the same time, present the more experienced leaders with alternatives for giving feedback besides the ways they already knew. 

Create a space to exchange knowledge 

After the round of short interviews with the leaders, we came to the realization that the group is very diverse. However, what they had in common was the desire to expand their knowledge for giving effective feedback. As HR Business Partners, we cooperate closely with leaders. This allows us to openly talk about their needs and jointly plan their development. Since Divante is in the middle of dynamic changes, our priority is to take care of people and to provide them with leaders who will have the time and attention for them.

“At the end of last year, a new structure appeared in our team. We selected leaders who were responsible for taking care of people. This meant that they would have to provide them with constant and 360-degree feedback. Some of them have never held such a role. That’s why the workshops were a great place to acquire this knowledge, learn about methods and good practices, and then use it in a practical way. For these experienced leaders, the workshops were a space for the exchange of knowledge and meeting other leaders in Divante. Both groups treated it as a space for their development.”

Aleksandra Kieleczawa, HRBP team

Our feedback plan consisted of five workshops with each one focused on a different area:

  • What is feedback for?
  • How to receive feedback.
  • How to prepare and give feedback.
  • Case studies about how to give difficult feedback.
  • Feedback in business relationships.

Having that in mind, we knew that organizing too theoretical or too technical webinars would not bring the expected results. We decided to establish cooperation with an external agency that was experienced in topics related to soft skills and go for practical workshops instead. All in all, spreading knowledge about the importance of feedback was our main goal. However, creating space for honest conversations and exchanging experiences also held a lot of value.

“Every manager has that feeling that they are kind of lonely in their role. Also, every leader has a constant need for improving their leadership skills and they are hungry for more knowledge. In 2021, we knew that we had a specific group of leaders because some of them were very experienced in their role and some of them were very new. What they had in common was the need for exchanging knowledge, the space and time for best practices, and simply the desire to talk with each other. We were very lucky because we had a group of busy people who wanted to save the time for their case studies and feedback stories. All of this was just to develop a feedback culture in their teams.”

Martyna Młynarczyk, HRBP team

Feedback culture: is it worth the investment? 

This year, we put even greater emphasis on supporting leaders in their development. We believe that working on expanding their self-awareness and the feeling that they have support in us and that their needs are heard can bring more benefits than you might think of at a first glance. Let’s not forget that employees come to the company but stay because of their leaders. 

“Through the years, while gaining experience in designing and executing HR strategies for various industries, I realized one thing about feedback that is certainly a no-brainer. Without qualitative, upbuilding, and constructive feedback, we are all doomed without knowing our impact, possibilities, and potential that is our internal power. These all can provide unprecedented empowerment to others. And both giving and receiving feedback constructively is very important in Divante. It is important for the leader to build good and strong professional relationships with their people as well as for them to grow thanks to constructive feedback that will be internalized and treated as an opportunity instead of being resented and taken as a threat or attack.

Aga Karpińska, Chief of People

We’re half way through 2022, and we really hope to continue doing our best to call this year the year of leadership in Divante. We hope that the steps we’ve already taken to strengthen their feedback skills will bring benefits to all employees. 

Published June 29, 2022