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feedbacklopBecoming a social business requires a fundamental focus upon behavior.  Your employees need to exhibit this behavior.  Your managers need to exhibit this behavior.  Quite possibly your suppliers and other stakeholders need to as well.

Achieving those behaviors of course is not easy, which is probably a major reason why 80% of social business projects fail to deliver the results hoped for.  To do so requires you to produce and provide employees with an environment that both supports and encourages the kind of behaviors you want to see on a regular basis.

There are various levers at your disposal to help create that environment, including the rewards you offer, the things you measure and the way you structure your organization.  I’d like to focus here however on how feedback can play such a pivotal role.

Employees crave insight into how they’re performing, and this is especially the case if your organization is undergoing a change in approach.  If you’re structuring your rewards and measurement to award people for behaving in a collaborative manner, then it stands to reason that feedback needs to sit closely alongside this.  You’re telling people that collaboration is important, because their pay and rewards are determined by this, so you need to provide feedback on how they’re doing.

To reinforce the collaborative behaviors in your organization, make sure that your feedback is:

  1. Specific - Ensure that you tell your team exactly what it is that you’re happy with.  If they shared knowledge with someone elsewhere, make sure your feedback is solely about that.
  2. Timely – It’s no use providing feedback on events that happened a long time ago.  If someone does something well, tell them about it as soon as possible.
  3. Constructive – When changing behaviors, there is sure to be some mishaps along the way.  If people do the wrong thing, make sure you reinforce the way you want them to behave.
  4. Personal – Collaboration is founded on strong relationships, so make your feedback as personal as you can.  You’re working on building the trust within your organization.
  5. Sincere – Be honest and sincere.  People can smell when we’re pulling one over them, so don’t fake things.  Instead, regard feedback as an enjoyable part of your job.

Do these things well, and feedback will support your other levers in creating a social business.

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About

Adi Gaskell is an old school liberal with a love of self organising systems. He holds a masters degree in IT, specializing in artificial intelligence and is an experienced community builder. He specializes in community cultivation and using social media to create social organisations. He has written on this topic for publications such as HRMToday, Professional Manager, Smart Brief, Social Media Today and edits the Social Business Zone at DZone.com.