A climate of trust through the culture of feedback

Picture of Fabien Jacquier

Fabien Jacquier

Managing Director

Establishing a climate of trust is like filling a bucket of water with a spoon in the middle of a battlefield; at the slightest jostle, water sprays out of the bucket. You have to be patient and persistent.

However, we often think that trusting someone is, above all, expecting the other person to keep his commitments. But these are often not explicit and everyone understands the wordings differently. Moreover, our other obligations or simply the daily life influence our actions, and do not always allow us to respect our commitments. This often leads to a breakdown in the bond of trust between two persons. Trust is not only built through actions.

We will show you how the feedback culture reduces tensions and thus creates a climate of trust.


Trust is built through feedbacks

Feedback is the act of expressing directly to someone what you feel about what they are doing. It can be positive, neutral or negative. Positive feedback is rewarding for the employee and negative feedback is a good way to reframe the situation.

To establish the bond of trust, it is necessary to be able to easily express the obstacles. Moreover, a naturally trusting person does not need to do this because he or she is convinced that the other person intends to respect his or her commitments. But to maintain the trust relationship, we must systematically show the other person our misperception of his/her intentions and that his/her reaction is convincing. This is the same as giving feedback.

Moreover, the fact that we can count on the other person to give us feedback in the event of a discrepancy reinforces the feeling of trust in the fact that there will be no resentment through unspoken words. It is therefore reassuring to be able to rely on the honesty of our colleagues.

Triangulation, the enemy of feedback

It is usually the supervisor’s role to provide feedbacks. Even in organizations where this is not the case, fears lead to a mechanical form of triangulation.

However, a feedback through an intermediary, even if the intermediary is competent, wastes time and will never be as effective as direct feedback, as the intermediary does not perceive the situation in the same way as the people concerned.

In addition, the perception of a form of denunciation can erode trust.

Besides, a disruptive employee’s behavior may go unnoticed by the supervisor. Colleagues then start to see a lack of supervision and find it more difficult to accept feedbacks.

This is why we have banned any form of triangulation in feedbacks. Each person can, if he/she deems it useful, seek a third party to unblock a conflict situation or ask a colleague or coach for advice on how to handle the situation. However, they must first give the feedback face to face and remain fully responsible for it.

Feedback and team spirit

As much as triangulation brings a form of distrust, direct feedback reinforces team spirit. Indeed, expressing emotions brings a perception of authenticity. Moreover, positive team feedback is a huge lever for personal satisfaction.

The fact of being able to dare to express oneself while having the right to make mistakes and to feel that no matter what happens, colleagues will be there to help, reinforces the team spirit.

Fears are obstacles to feedbacks

The fear of talking to others is human and normal.

We are afraid of hurting the other person’s feelings, or of being reproached, or of being wrong in our perception.

Often, on the spur of the moment, we are also apprehensive about our own attitude and tend to postpone the discussion to a time when we feel more serene. But expressing emotion in the moment is much more effective than reflective feedback. When there is an atmosphere of mutual respect and listening, feedback is not taken as a personal attack, and the immediate expression of emotion about our attitude brings simplicity and sincerity to human relations.

As all this is easier said than done, at KYOS we train our teams in a good practice that allows us to give feedback despite all these fears.

Good feedback practice

Here is how we recommend giving feedbacks:

In order to receive feedback, one must be aware of its usefulness. It is therefore necessary to listen, be tolerant and express gratitude to the other person.

Finally, the people agree and decide on the measures to be implemented.

This good practice allows for direct feedback when necessary. The fact that everyone can do it at any time allows for a framing without the need for control. This is done naturally without wasting time waiting for the manager to do it, thus avoiding the trap of triangulation.

Why is feedback more effective than control?

For a company to function properly, employees must also have confidence that deviant behaviour will be reframed. At KYOS, this is done through feedbacks.

Usually, if an employee is negligent or forgets to communicate, the manager will correct him or her, and in the event of a repeat offence, he or she will propose a control system. But this control system is not always appropriate.

It also has a deleterious effect, because the risk is that the employee will lose responsibility and will tend to be defensive and justify himself, which is unproductive and frustrating for the team.

Therefore, we have removed a large part of the controls and trained everyone to give feedbacks. Instead of blaming someone, we will tell someone something that is bothering us and listen to understand the cause. We are much more influenced by the image we give to the people around us than by a control.

Kindness should not be a priority

It is always better to be successful in being benevolent, but making it a priority when giving feedbacks creates a risk of blockage. You can’t force someone to want what’s best for their colleague, especially when you’re angry. In order for people to dare to express their feelings, it is therefore preferable that they disregard benevolence. This should come naturally through the bond of trust and the spirit of mutual support.

Furthermore, people who force themselves to be caring when they are upset may not be perceived as genuine. This can lead to biased feedbacks.

The role of the coach in feedbacks

The coach can have an important role in feedbacks. Indeed, he/she can either help a collaborator to give feedbacks, or mediate in case of disagreement, or help to frame a collaborator who has a repetitive behavior.

Informing about our activities

It is important to regularly inform colleagues about your own activities and not only to boast about your successes. This limits the risk of misunderstandings or bad impressions while offering other opportunities to give feedback. This makes the feedback more relevant and effective, which helps maintain trust.

Expressing concerns even when they seem obvious

Anticipating is obviously a good practice. It is important to get into the habit of asking questions about existing risks.

Often, perceived risks are not expressed to others, mainly because of the fear of being wrong in one’s judgment or of appearing pessimistic. We may also not verbalize a concern because it seems obvious. This makes it unnecessary to talk about it, and we even fear that the other person will be offended by showing what they have already seen, as if we don’t trust them.

But expressing your concerns is a good habit to get into. Indeed, everyone can sometimes be overconfident or not perceive the dangers in the same way.  This simple feedback can then effectively reduce the risks. The best practice is to identify and express your concern and not to reproach the other person for having the same concern. This prevents the other person from feeling responsible for anticipating potential problems.


Expressing confidence in the other person’s sense of responsibility, while at the same time being accustomed to giving feedbacks on one’s own concerns, helps to reinforce the climate of trust: “Since we are in the same boat when it comes to dealing with problems, I can also count on the other person to help me manage the risks.

Feedback is everyone's business

It is everyone’s responsibility to give feedbacks; it does not diminish the responsibility of leaders or management. It is a help that we give to each other in the name of the good functioning of the team.

The real challenge of feedback: the climate of trust

Fears are a real obstacle to feedbacks. The key to success lies in the team’s ability to create a sufficiently solid climate of trust. Indeed, having confidence in the other person means not being afraid of offending him or her, nor of reproach, nor of making a mistake. When you can express what you feel without fear of judgment, there is no longer any obstacle to feedbacks.

Thus, to dare to give feedbacks, you need to have confidence, which is earned by giving feedbacks. To trigger this virtuous circle and thus fill the confidence bucket, you must start giving feedbacks now!

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