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Is feedback the right way of internal communication?

Most companies rely on the feedback system to connect with employees and internal customers. Is this method correct? Let's try to find out in this article.

Seeking feedback continuously carries a negative consequence around it, although this is not correct.  Obtaining feedback is actually having a conversation between two people.  

In a recent conference, Vikram Tandon, Head – HR, HSBC India started thesession by saying that continuous feedback is given to employees regularly, so that there are no surprises at the end of the year.  As L&D professionals, you need to be articulate and get the message across to the stakeholders of your company that there is a need for change. If this change does not come about, then you cannot hope to be the employer of choice.

Secondly this is not a process change. It is the change in the mindset and the culture of the firm.  This is the biggest challenge as L&D professionals.  How do we break the mould in people’s thinking and move onto continuous feedback?  Senior leadership commitment and senior leadership tone and building the capabilities of line management will set the pace.  

The next step would be to analyse the conversations and find out if we could use this data to do things differently; to bring employees up to a particular standard or fill in certain gaps. 

A set of questions was given to the entire organisation of 4,000 employees and people knew what to expect.  At the end of the first year, the management slowly realised that they had triggered a set of conversations that trigger fewer unpleasant surprises.  

They also realised that they need to build capabilities in approaching performances and dealing with relatively difficult conversations.

There was good feedback too about learning needs for the coming year.    

Hemalakshmi Raju, Head – L&D, Cipla, took the stage and shared some thoughts and perspectives that she had. She said that apart from learning how to give continuous feedback, can we also look at building skills outside the classroom, can we create role models within the ecosystem.

Bringing about a culture change is very, very difficult.  Do we have the leaders’ buy-in for this?  Are leaders leading by example?  Are they giving time for it?  Are we creating an eco-system where this can flourish?  

We took a pause and wondered about our success and how we could continue to be successful and stay relevant for the next 80 years? The environment is changing drastically.

What is it that we should start doing differently?  We looked at some of our principles, that is our mission and vision statements, values and culture and articulated them differently.  

We wanted to build Cipla as a communicating and listening organisation. It is not as if we were not doing it before. But the fact is that we are growing globally and there were a lot of youngsters who had come into the organisation and had spent less than three years with us. 

We undertook a few initiatives and took immediate action on the feedback and changed some policies. The message that came across to the employees was that we are listening and that we are serious about it.

We have started the process of continuous feedback and are working on making it better with time.  

Kameshwari Rao - Vice-President, People Strategy, Sapient, summarised the session by saying that L&D professionals influence their leaders and management, enabling mindsets and skills and creating an environment.