How Focusing on Feedback Can Unlock Better Performance


Each day, there seems to be more challenges, more variables, more controversies, and less time to deal with them all.

The world of work is no exception. Individuals, teams, and whole organizations are navigating challenges they couldn’t have predicted a year ago without a crystal ball and some luck. The dizzying pace and increased uncertainty of work makes it all the more important to adopt strategies that help us adapt quickly.

Our research has identified clarity and transparency as critical skills that leaders need in order to help their employees stay focused, engaged, and productive.

Because a culture of high-quality, regular feedback is critical for clarity and transparency, we’ve pulled together most important resources to help you, and your organization, use feedback to help navigate the challenges we face now and in the future.

Why feedback feels so bad

We know that feedback can unlock individual and organizational performance, especially during volatile times. But research tells us that unsolicited feedback can be overwhelming, for both the giver and the receiver.

At NLI, we’ve found that people should be asking for feedback. Our research shows that asking for feedback creates a “toward” state in the brain—an approach mentality in which you actively seek out feedback rather than dreading it.

NLI helps organizations ask often, ask well, and provide feedback in the most effective way when requested. And, by creating the habit of asking for feedback, we put our brains, and our colleagues’ brains, in a much more agreeable state. We enable feedback conversations that actually benefit both parties.

To learn more about what the research says about feedback, check out this post on our blog, our recent webinar on feedback cultures, or our article in Strategy + Business.

Priming your brain for feedback

Giving and receiving better feedback requires us to kick some old habits, dispel some old fears, and adopt a new mindset—a growth mindset.

For the receiver, that means accepting that feedback is an opportunity to grow, learn, and improve. For the giver, that means providing constructive, supportive feedback. Both parties play a crucial role in having manageable, non-threatening, and growth-oriented feedback conversations.

To learn more about giving and receiving feedback with a growth mindset, explore our blog posts on those topics that offer practical tips on adopting a growth mindset in feedback conversations.

Creating a culture of feedback

Today we’re reevaluating every norm and standard of our workplaces. That makes this, as unlikely as it may seem, the perfect time to create a culture of feedback.

Back in 2018, we helped Microsoft revamp their performance management system and create a culture of feedback. Employees reported that their feedback conversations became more open, informed, and interesting—and that employees became more active in gathering information to guide their own growth and learning.

This recent blog post tells us why this moment presents a unique opportunity to create a culture of feedback.

Authors: Cliff David , Barbara Steel