More often than not, you can’t do organizational development based only on the company’s performance. When you focus on the statistics, you can fail to see what’s causing the output to fail from within.
Having a strong connection to your employees and receiving feedback from them is one of the key steps towards building a stronger company. Here’s how you can do it in an optimal way.
How to collect better feedback
Changing your company for the better starts at making sure the employees tell you what they really think. If your corporate culture disincentivizes feedback, you won’t have the correct data.
With that, your vision of the company is going to be skewed. Here are the steps towards gathering feedback in the right way.
Don’t punish employees
This problem makes a lot of companies resistant to changes. Every idea about the company that employees have, the management rejects. If your management talks down all initiative and feedback the workers provide, you’re headed for a disaster.
You’ll have to change the culture first. Feedback is not always about efficiency. The point is getting more feedback and then sifting through it to find good ideas.
Make sure managers take notice of feedback, whether negative or positive, productive or not. They can mildly explain why some ideas employees come up with won’t work, but not outright reject them. This creates a feedback-oriented culture and boosts morale.
Are your employees not keen on providing any feedback at all? You can change it, but it requires a lot of time.
The first step towards this is talking to the employees more. Engage in conversations, nurture their skills, ask their opinions. Show your office workers you’re willing to listen to them, and the amount of feedback you receive will increase.
Collect feedback continuously
Focus on creating a feedback culture instead of fixing your business by collecting feedback once.
Getting quality feedback from your employees means you can understand the company on all levels. You have to understand how your strategic decisions impact workflow, and how missteps affect the bottom line.
Make it imperative to gather feedback in the following situations:
After a meeting
After a change of policy
After a new hire
During a new project
Giving constant feedback also makes employees open about their problems with the company. They’ll be less likely to leave because they would feel they can change it for the better.
Talk to employees in person
If you want to get the kind of feedback no employee is going to say on a meeting, talk to them privately. Some people are just too polite to criticize when they think it can cause public embarrassment. Sometimes, they are the most professional ones.
Dedicate some of your time to share a lunch with the coworkers who know their craft but don’t want to speak up. You’ll receive great feedback and strengthen the ties with employees.
“The easiest way to gather a constant stream of feedback is to send out questionnaires.” – says Jacob Mcinnes, co-founder of Cake HR Software. – “It’s non-intrusive and easy to automate.”
Ask employees to evaluate the business processes, their own performance, and throw in an idea or two about making it better. Questionnaires are fast to complete and anonymous, so more people will fill them out. The hard part is making it a reliable source of information.
Ask the right questions
Asking the right questions is key to getting quality feedback. Going with a “Are you satisfied with our company?” is a terrible choice. So is asking ground-level employees how do they feel about a recent merger.
The first question gives you little information, the second one doesn’t meet the competency standards. You want neither in your questionnaires and interviews.
Here are the questions you may want to ask:
Describe the leadership style of your manager.
Were you engaged or bored at a meeting?
Why you didn’t finish the task in time?
Do you plan to leave the company? Why?
Go for questions that meet the person’s competency and focus on a narrow subject. Form questions in a neutral way, and opt for scale answers if possible.
How to implement changes feedback
Based on the feedback, you may have to change the product, the workflow, or the culture. But before you do this, you have to find out what you have to change.
Look for systemic problems
Not all feedback is meaningful. For instance, some employees may be dissatisfied with the company because they’re living through a tough time. It has nothing to do with the company, so if there are a couple of outliers, you can dismiss them.
However, if 60% of people feel the latest meeting went half an hour longer than it should have, you might have to give it a closer look.
Look for the cause
More often than not, feedback signals about the symptoms, not the cause. It’s a great way to learn there’s a problem, but few people actually have an idea of why the problem exists.
If we’re talking about a meeting, some time may have been wasted configuring the projector and arguing chaotically. This means you have problems with tech support and meeting protocol. Focus on finding the causes and eliminating them.
Change in iterations
After you’ve figured out the root cause of the problem, you may be tempted to work on a complex solution and implement it overnight. This may be creating more problems than it solves.
Instead, take advantage of the new tool in your arsenal, feedback. Implement the solution in iterations, and gather feedback about it. Use the results to change your company further.
Be courteous to employees
When you’re trying to implement a new solution, there always will be people who don’t want to change. They’re used to doing things the old way and see no point in changes.
Being too strict with these people may lead to them sabotaging the effort out of spite. Change the rhetoric to appeal to these conservative employees.
Treat them like experimentators. Ask them to do things your way, and provide feedback on their own productivity. You can use the feedback culture you’ve created to make employees more self-aware and more likely to change.
Let your employees help you
The odds are your office dwellers won’t come knocking on your door with brilliant ideas on how to fix the company. What they will do is feel heard and give you insight into the company on all levels.
All you have to do is change your attitude. Treat every complaint not as employees failing to understand how to do it your way, but as your way being inefficient. Then you’ll be able to make a change.
James Riddle is a multi-topic writer at WhenIPost.com passionate about new technologies, digital marketing trends and branding strategies. He is always seeking to discover new ways for personal and professional growth and is convinced that it’s always important to broaden horizons. That`s why James develops and improves his skills throughout the writing process to help and inspire people.