feedback-2044700_640Honesty should be part and parcel of your company culture. It should underlie your entire operation and be inclusive of your core values. It should underscore every action and motivate everyone to be the best they can be. It should, but sometimes, it doesn’t. It is not that NFPs or organisations are being dishonest – it is just that people are so used to watering down their feedback in the name of kindness that it soon becomes second nature.

Your company culture should practice the art of welcoming honest feedback into the fold. There should be no retribution for unhappiness or criticism. All team members and leaders need to be transparent in their feedback so that it becomes clear when something is not working. That way something can be done about it, sooner rather than later.

If it is understood that the company cares about everyone’s opinions, then staff and volunteers are likely to feel more respected. An open floor where people can share concerns and successes needs to be welcomed. By doing so, you are empowering each individual and the NFP as a whole.

This inclusive culture, where people feel like they have a say in the organisation, gives employees and volunteers a sense of purpose. They feel like they can directly influence success, spurring them on to do better, try harder. Honest feedback also has a way of doing away with underground chatter or negative behaviour. When employees know they can speak their mind, things are more likely to get done, and changes are more likely to be made.

Of course, this type of company culture does not occur overnight. It takes time – sometimes baby step after baby step – to get there. It can be difficult to develop particularly if there has been some mistrust or hesitancy on the employee’s part to say what they think beforehand.

But, in the main, NFPs are getting there. There seems to be a shift in attitudes as a whole, albeit a small one. The truth is that people are more likely to give an honest critique if the information is confidential. No one wants to put their name to a comment, particularly if it is, for the most part, a negative one.

Criticism or honest feedback is a way to grow and thrive. It is a way to help the industry move forward. Safe spaces need to be recognised and honoured for profits and nonprofits alike. The idea that feedback need only be positive is misleading. It is superficial at best and unhelpful at its worst. If there is a real issue, how can it be challenged or corrected, if no one is allowed to shed light on it?

If the leaders at the top respect honest feedback and that view is dribbled down to every person, then trust will prevail. Discussions can be honest and supportive in the right circumstances. Robust conversations can develop, and weaknesses can be exposed and repaired.

Not everyone will thrive in this kind of culture, and it may be a case of weeding out individuals who cannot meet these basic standards. Remember, each step towards honesty is a positive one. In an environment where everyone can thrive and feel supported, productive discussions will be par for the course and success is well within your reach.