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Engage Talks: Building a Culture of Feedback

4 minute read

On the 17th of April, we recorded another episode of Engage Talks, shining a light on the power of feedback and transparent communication in the workplace. This talk was led by our host Cathy Brown, who was joined by Hamzah Hafesji (Group Product Manager at OneAdvanced), Saskia Larsen (Group Director of People and Development at Activate Learning), and Fiona Campbell-Downes (Head of HR Operations & OD at AG Barr) at the London Stock Exchange.

Together, they discussed how the workplace has changed in recent years, how employees’ expectations have evolved and what organisations are doing to adapt. Specifically, they explored how leaders should deliver feedback, build trust, support managers, and empower their people.


According to Hamzah and OneAdvanced’s research, the thing that sets the top performers apart is having regular conversations that enable them to grow. This means being open to receiving constructive feedback, setting clear goals, and planning personal development accordingly. Underlining the significance of this, Hamzah revealed that people who leave organisations are twice as likely to not have had open conversations or received feedback.

Both Fiona and Saskia agreed with Hamzah’s statement, with Saskia highlighting that it is not just about having one-to-one conversations but rather about having meaningful conversations. If you are not having these discussions, Fiona suggests actively seeking them out, noting that they do not need to be formal.


In today’s day and age, it is hugely important to recognise that every individual is unique and that what works for one might not work for another.

Cathy used a personal example to magnify this, revealing that she was recently diagnosed with ADHD and that this diagnosis has an impact on the way she prefers to receive feedback and set goals. Explaining how technology can assist neurodiverse employees, Hamzah told us:

“From within our product, we want to ensure that it is as accessible as possible, particularly to those individuals that have neurodiversity, and if I speak from my own lens, I’m incredibly dyslexic so sitting down and writing feedback to someone can be quite hard. And we see this a lot. Employees will tell us: “I know what I want to say, I don’t quite know how to articulate myself”. Now, what we are fortunate with, particularly in the current climate with the acceleration of technology and AI, we’ve implemented the ability for AI to assist employees. So, it’s employee-owned and assisted by AI.”

Hamzah also spoke about the new generation that is entering the workforce, reminding us that Gen Z communicates differently, favouring digital tools like voice messaging. In turn, people management tools must have features that allow for this method of communication.

Taking this topic further, Fiona said that managers should make use of the various ways they can give feedback by asking their people whether they prefer face-to-face conversations, email communication, voice messaging, or simply an informal chat.

Saskia also noted that people managers must pay attention to the way their feedback lands and adapt accordingly, considering that everyone responds differently.


While we all know that receiving feedback allows us to grow and develop, people rarely welcome it with open arms.

Constructive feedback is often feared, especially when it is given in a formal setting and only once a year. For this reason, our speakers stressed that you must build and develop a culture where feedback is normalised. It is only when organisations do not have a culture of giving feedback that it becomes a challenge.

“Feedback is a gift that you can give to another person. The easiest type of feedback to give is positive and people feel natural about doing that. […] Constructive feedback I think is the real cornerstone behind performance development and that becomes a gift because, if it is delivered effectively, it allows the individual to understand what they need to do as part of their own growth journey. And I think it is really unkind to not give people constructive feedback only for them to find out a couple of months down the line that actually, they weren’t hitting the objectives that they are meant to,” Saskia shared.

With this, the conversation quickly turned to the way businesses have shifted from having annual reviews to favouring more regular and less formal conversations. Hamzah commented on this, noting that annual appraisals are often considered to be time-consuming and not as effective, considering that you have to wait an entire year to find out how you perform against your goals.

All speakers agreed that having regular conversations deconstructs the notion that feedback is something to be feared. In encouraging a two-way dialogue and having natural, fluid discussions, leaders can create a feedback culture that allows everyone to thrive.

Interested in learning more? Watch the full Engage Talks episode on-demand.

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