What Are The Barriers To Two-Way Feedback At Work?

The Barriers To Two-Way Feedback At Work

The Barriers To Two-Way Feedback At Work

People are familiar with the commands and feedback flowing down the organization through the hierarchy. This is an inefficient way to manage feedback at work. The same organizations will also report a higher employee turnover and inefficient strategy execution because people are not engaged at work. Even surveys tell a similar story.

98% of the workers are not engaged when they receive little or no feedback.

People want more frequent, meaningful, and both-way flowing feedback, as it happens in continuous performance management. The reality differs from this in many companies. There are many ongoing practices that hinder this regular employee feedback. Not just that, many leaders do not believe in the potency of this upward feedback where people give feedback to managers. 

Here, you will read about the factors that restrict better feedback and workplace conversation practices. These can help you identify shortcomings in your company and rectify them.

How do you conduct two-way employee feedback at work?

Work conversations start with a purpose, and the OKR framework provides that purpose to the whole organization. Everyone can link their work to the main business objectives and discuss the progress with their team.

Leaders and employees can engage in two-way conversations regularly. Here is a great example from the book Measure What Matters. Pact, a U.S based non-profit organization, conducts continuous conversations through:

  • Monthly one-to-one between managers and employees about how things are generally going.
  • OKR quarterly progress reviews
  • Bi-annual career development conversations.
  • Self-driven initiatives. Leaders encourage constructive peer-to-peer feedback.

Barriers to two-way employee feedback

Annual performance reviews

It’s a fact that nobody likes annual performance reviews anymore. 77% of HR leaders feel that yearly reviews do not accurately describe people’s work.

Yearly goal-setting is time-consuming, inaccurate, and does not support employee development. Moreover, it can demotivate the employees, leading to poor employee engagement.

It’s good to know that more organizations are ditching the annual performance reviews and adopting more frequent and efficient ways to manage people, such as Continuous Performance Management.

Rigid organizational structure

A fixed and vertical organizational structure is proving to be inefficient for businesses. Communication is slow, and teams cannot execute things more independently.

This conventional way of operating does not encourage leaders to have fruitful conversations with employees. Leaders usually give orders which then cascade down to the junior levels.

Companies have much better alternatives to the above system. They can still have a hierarchy of leaders in the company, but the team members can practice active collaboration and continuous employee feedback under more decentralized team operations.

Lagging work culture

You know how the values, beliefs, and work environment can make or break a company culture. In lagging work cultures, people work in silos, and employees usually have poor job satisfaction. Team engagement suffers when team members mind their own business and sit at their desks all day.

On the contrary, a lively company culture motivates the team to engage in frequent collaboration, conversations, and feedback.

Lack of workforce training and mentorship

Many companies fail to understand that the organization grows when its people grow. Training and mentorship do not mean you have to train them only the hard skills required for the job but also the soft skills.

A lot of our professional lives are spent communicating with other team members. The sad part is that not many companies invest the resources to teach their employees the value of communication and teamwork. You can promote a continuous employee feedback culture in your organization by training people to have meaningful conversations at work.

Poor employee engagement

When you find your people taking more leaves and quitting the organization, it’s probably bad employee engagement. Engagement is how connected people feel to the company. It’s directly related to the conversations people have at work. Disengaged people tend to be stressed and work in silos.

One effective way to boost engagement at work is to implement OKRs (Objectives and key results). They give people purpose and the means to connect their day-to-day work with critical business goals. The OKR framework also facilitates active collaboration and bidirectional employee feedback.

Lack of psychological safety and open communication

Psychological safety is there if people can speak up their minds on relevant work subjects without fear. When people hesitate to involve in team discussions and brainstorming sessions, they tend to move into silos.

Leaders must promote open communication and welcome opinions from everyone in the meetings. This practice facilitates effective communication and two-way employee feedback. 

Inefficient collaboration methods

Poor collaboration practices at work discourage active interpersonal interactions at work. It’s imperative to have an agile working environment, seeing the current business and market conditions. With the right tool, people can speed up specific manual operations. For example, you don’t have to send files each time you make edits. Just use a real-time collaboration tool to share files and work with remote co-workers.

You can now do much more on a single platform. Employees can request feedback from their leaders on specific areas. Leaders can recognize high-performing workers. The best part is that internal communication has no barriers on a useful collaboration platform.

You can facilitate continuous conversations at your workplace by successfully implementing the OKR framework. If you want to use OKRs and don’t know where to start, talk to us. Reach out to us by registering on our website.


1. What is continuous performance management?

Contrary to traditional annual performance reviews, continuous performance management involves:

  • Continuous conversations between managers and employees.
  • Ongoing bidirectional feedback.
  • Constrantly recognizing deserving employee contributions.

2. Can you combine OKRs with continuous performance management?

You can leverage OKRs when you engage in continuous performance management with the team. People have more clarity of their work and jobs become meaningful.

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Gaurav Sabharwal


Gaurav is the CEO of JOP (Joy of Performing), an OKR and high-performance enabling platform. With almost two decades of experience in building businesses, he knows what it takes to enable high performance within a team and engage them in the business. He supports organizations globally by becoming their growth partner and helping them build high-performing teams by tackling issues like lack of focus, unclear goals, unaligned teams, lack of funding, no continuous improvement framework, etc. He is a Certified OKR Coach and loves to share helpful resources and address common organizational challenges to help drive team performance. Read More

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