For any company seeking to continuously improve their work environment, feedback from employees is vital. Without it, key information cannot be extracted and utilized to grow the business. Your staff is integral to your operation, and without their support to what you are looking to achieve, success will be impossible.
As a manager, you must try to ascertain your staff’s goals and aspirations as well as the obstacles that are holding them back. Always work with one objective in mind: to facilitate growth in both the individual and the company as a whole. This is the hallmark of a successful operation.
Improving a company is very difficult without honest feedback. However, employees are not likely to simply volunteer this information that is critical to the business. One of the only times a lot of companies ever get this information is when they are losing the staff member in question during the exit interview.
Although you can learn from the exit interview and try not to makes the same mistakes with other staff, at this point you have already lost an employee and risk losing more in the same way. Every company should try to facilitate an atmosphere in the workplace where meaningful and honest employee feedback is regularly sought and secured in order to benefit the staff member and the organization. Here are five methods by which this can be achieved:
1. Instill an Open Culture
Employees must recognize that the company is open enough to accept and act upon feedback. It is no good seeking feedback from staff when upper management does not do anything to encourage it. For example, if a manager sits down with an employee and asks for feedback, yet there is nothing else within the company's management style and prevailing climate to suggest that this feedback is really wanted, then no one will want to really open up.
“The desire to acquire feedback must be evident from the moment that an employee enters a company. And it cannot be in the form of just one channel, but multiple,” - Javier Stoll, Marketer
So what does an open culture actually look like? First, employees should never be punished or penalized for giving negative feedback. Secondly, there must be numerous channels by which feedback can be given, not just an antiquated suggestion box.
Finally and most importantly, employees must see that their feedback is actually acted upon. This all builds into an open, trusting culture in which employees feel empowered to give their opinions.
2. Train Management to Facilitate Feedback
Managers in an organization already have a lot on their plate, but being able to secure honest feedback from their staff is something that should high on the list of priorities. Training leaders to collect and utilize feedback from the people on their team is important to the stability of the department. Asking for and using the feedback received ensures that managers will have the support of their team members.
“Many businesses fail to recognize that the ability to listen and encourage – which is what managers need to do to facilitate valuable feedback – is not necessarily a skill that is inherent in all managers. Therefore, coaching is required, and this requires the investment of resources and time,” - Ted Masterson, Business Writer
The training of management in the art of communication is an essential component of building a culture of openness which facilitates great feedback.
3. Employ Multiple Channels of Collecting Feedback
As mentioned previously, exit interviews cannot be the only way of collecting feedback from employees. If the time when they leave the organization is the only time that staff member opens up, how can a business ascertain that employee’s obstacles, aspirations, fears, ambitions and all the other relevant details which can be acted upon to maximize potential?
The purpose of collecting feedback is all about maximizing the potential of each and every staff member. Managers and senior managers must be accessible, aware of employee opinions, and take the suggestions seriously. Not only does this improve productivity, but it will encourage great employees to stay and grow within your business which is good for everyone.
So what kind of channels can be utilized here? Besides the scheduled "official" opportunities to give feedback in the form of reviews and so on, there should be additional practices within the business that encourage the sharing of ideas.
It could be as simple as utilizing a staff whiteboard where employees can make suggestions at any time. Another effective way of collecting information could be through using company software to gather constructive comments or ideas about projects. You can also solicit feedback through emailing surveys to your employees on a regular basis.
4. Ask Questions
This is a simple concept. If there are answers that you as a business are seeking, then ask questions that will allow employees to provide the information that is required.
Managers should regularly question employees in an unthreatening manner about all aspects of their job. This should be done in a positive way that shows a willingness to help assist the employees with any obstacles or challenges that they may run into.
Don’t limit this to job-specific questions either! Managers should also actively seek information about other elements of the employee’s activities which impact upon performance.
Gauging how comfortable the employee feels in the office, their collaboration efforts with coworkers, or other measurements of employee happiness in the workplace can all help managers to create an uplifting environment for workers to excel in.
The ability of managers to ask the right questions should be built-in to the leadership training they receive in communication. All of these elements are connected.
5. Act on Feedback
So, you’ve effectively established means by which feedback can be given, but then one day, the staff just stop giving it. Why? Because the prevailing feeling is that this feedback is not being acted upon. If employees see that their feedback is just lip service with no results, they will soon stop giving any feedback that can help management improve.
Therefore, it is vital that a business looks to act upon feedback wherever necessary, and measure the success of these results too. For example, if an employee recognizes and communicates a barrier to their improvement, offer a training intervention which can act as a solution.
These interventions are practices that are all inherently intertwined and facilitate a culture of honest feedback which elevates both the staff themselves and the company for which they work to new heights of success.
Content editor Harry Conley is a man of many talents. As well as his work for Lucky assignments and Gum essays, he is involved in the development of training and workflow activities to enhance the ability of writers, always seeking to unlock potential along the way. Another string to his bow is his interest is the provision of supplementary materials and instructional support for contributors.