The sudden shift to hybrid and remote work that began in 2020, in many cases, resulted in a decrease in the human element of the workplace. Now that managing work and learning in a dispersed work environment is here to stay, creating, or perhaps more appropriately “recreating,” a human-centric workplace may require consistent action and full team commitment.
As with most things, it’s easier said than done. But it all starts with mastering the basics: communication and interactive feedback. Teams with clean and open communication report having better employee well-being, less mishaps and better productivity. Let’s take a look at how learning leaders can use communication and feedback to recreate a human-centered work environment.
The Communication Loop
The Communication Loop is a key model for fostering an enhanced, human-centric form of communication. Understanding and practicing these five crucial communication steps can help increase collaboration, team effectiveness and team productivity, ultimately leading to a more human-centric workplace. Here are the five steps to The Communication Loop:
- Send: First, the sender must deliver the intended message in a clear and effective manner.
- Interpret: The receiver interprets the message. Here, they have two choices: to make an assumption, which can cause defending, attacking, avoiding or understanding, or to demonstrate an ability and willingness to consider the message being sent.
- Increase clarity, decrease mistakes: This step involves two-way communication. The receiver must listen for clarity and understanding and employ either precision listening (i.e., repeating back the exact details of the message) or active listening (i.e., repeating back the gist of the message). Next, they must check their assumptions and be curious — understanding both themselves as the receiver and the other communicator as the sender.
- Acknowledge: Here, the message is sent back to the sender. They must either accept what the receiver said they heard their message to be or attempt to redeliver the message in a better way to gain understanding.
- Action: Arguably the most important step — this final element entails agreeing together on a plan of action/next steps to ensure successful follow through.
Consider putting this fundamental five-step model into practice in your workplace. Introduce and trial it with your team. Creating a human-centric workplace involves more than clear communication, there’s a human element to it after all. And now, with your communication skills nailed down, interactive feedback can be easier to implement.
A workplace culture of interactive feedback can help provide essential information for decision making and performance improvement by reflecting on past and future results. Interactive feedback can also be used to initiate behavioral changes to achieve positive, long-term, measurable improvements in task-specific performance.
Interactive feedback involves the “three Fs:” feedback, feedforward and follow up. This approach ensures that feedback isn’t forgotten. It encourages action, active change and follow through. Let’s take a look at what it means to provide interactive feedback and how this can promote a human-centered workplace.
Feedback refers to the past — noticing past behaviors and bringing those past experiences into the present via an observation of behavior (e.g., employee recognition).
Feedforward refers to the now — taking present behaviors and helping the person develop and/or become better at something for the future. Learning leaders can do this by providing suggestions for the future (e.g., opening the door for future collaboration).
Follow up refers to the future — putting feedback and feedforward into action to reinforce positive behavioral changes and assess performance (e.g., “How’s it going? Do you need any help from me? And if so, how?”)
Another successful key to interactive feedback is employing “the video test.” The video test involves actively observing a person’s behaviors so that you can accurately describe those
behaviors. Describing the behaviors with help from The Communication Loop can be a great starting point for an effective two-way conversation.
The Communication Loop and interactive feedback are deeply intertwined and essential for achieving a human-centric workplace. Try putting your newfound communication skills into action when providing feedback in your workplace. Marrying the power of both skills can help boost human interaction and connectivity, ultimately supporting a human-centric workplace.
Remember, successfully reintroducing the “human” element into your workplace is an ongoing commitment and requires continuous effort. It isn’t a one-and-done. Most importantly, communication and feedback-based action items are sustainable tactics you can implement in your workplace and maintain going forward.