“Restorative leadership WILL acknowledge and label this feedback in an honest and vulnerable way.”
Negative Climate Survey Feedback?
Next Steps to Transformation
When a climate survey goes out, it can be a hard pill to swallow. Sometimes you will receive negative climate survey feedback. Many of the comments can be hurtful, personal, and directed towards specific people in leadership.
We recommend that you always have a third party read a survey for themes before it goes to leadership. If they find repeated comments and track those, that bitter pill is much easier to swallow. But this doesn’t take away from the fact that there are actual themes occurring. It is a good idea for people at the top levels of leadership to read the comments, but a third party can prepare them for the feedback and that is the kindest way to interact with a culture or climate survey.
Is the negative feedback 20 percent of the feedback? That is to be expected and can help de-personalize the feedback. If it is less than 20 percent, then your organization healthier than most. Also, remember to assume positive intentions on this feedback. Assuming that a group of people are actually hoping for positive changes even though their feedback seems toxic, is a way for the leadership be ready to shift.
If there is more than 20% negative feedback, there is a real problem that needs to be addressed.
Who Owns the Toxic Culture?
A leadership team might find ways to rationalize this feedback as a toxic culture; placing the responsibility solely on the employees. Blaming the employees will lead to minimal changes and more finger pointing. In this case your organization needs to prepare for your employees to leave. After a survey is given, the employees now have a cognitive expectation for change. If you do not change things, people will begin to act out in various ways.
Honor the Feedback
Restorative leadership WILL acknowledge and label this feedback in an honest and vulnerable way. If a specific leader is causing a lot of problems this needs to be labeled authentically and not re-worded as something like: “problems with communication.” Leadership needs to take steps for real damage repair. Your employees will know, on many levels, if you try to manipulate the situation. Furthermore, if your leadership feels that labeling things what they are will cause a liability, then you already know there’s a serious problem.
Repair the Damage
Our goal at Mud and Lotus Consulting is to actually coach leaders to repair the damage that might come forward on a survey with a direct and authentic approach. Restorative Practices are meant to fix problems and come up with actual solutions that people in the organization can agree to and follow. This creates a pathway to healthy future interactions and better survey results.