Acquiring honest feedback from employees is essential for improving your company’s performance and staff retention. Yet, many times employees are hesitant about providing honest feedback for fear of the repercussions such honesty can have. Creating a trusting, transparent environment in which feedback is genuinely welcomed can be achieved following these simple strategies.
Employees can find it nerve-wracking to provide honest feedback to their employers, particularly if they are being asked to do it face-to-face and if the feedback they want to give is negative. As such, if you want to get genuine, honest feedback from your employees, employ a range of methods which allow your workers to provide the feedback they want, whilst remaining anonymous.
One of the easiest ways to achieve this is to ask your employees to complete surveys or feedback forms online. Similarly, you can consider using more traditional methods, such as suggestion boxes or even providing teams with whiteboards where they provide suggestions and feedback, whilst maintaining confidentially.
Another option is to hire a third-party to acquire feedback. The external consultant can help lead discussions on the key topics that leaders want to know more about. One of the benefits of using highly skilled third-party facilitators is that they are able to create a comfortable and safe atmosphere in which participants feel confident sharing their genuine feedback. Ask the consultant to present their findings, either through a formal presentation or via a written report.
How frequently you ask employees for feedback is important, not only for establishing trust but also for creating an environment in which feedback is seen as being genuinely valued. Whichever format you choose for requesting employee feedback, consider having at least one method which can be accessed at all times.
There can be a tendency to only ask for workers’ feedback once or twice a year. However, by providing a system that can be regularly accessed whenever it’s needed, you can stay on top of any problems as they arise and subsequently, put measures in place to deal with them.
Moreover, by having an ongoing ‘live’ system of feedback, you also signal to your employees that their opinions matter, thus helping them to feel more empowered and valued within the company. This is also a good way to acquire suggestions and ideas from your employees and test them. Creating an online channel for ongoing feedback can be particularly successful, as it allows for timely input and response, whilst also maintaining anonymity.
One of the most effective strategies used to acquire honest feedback from employees is known as the “skip-level” conversation. In many instances, employees may not find it comfortable or appropriate to report their views or concerns to their immediate supervisors or managers, especially if their feedback is centered around their management.
However, the “skip-level” strategy allows for upper management, preferably those two levels above, to hold talks with employees. This can greatly help upper management to get a clearer, more realistic and honest picture of what is actually taking place, as well as gaining valuable understanding regarding potential problems.
It’s also a great way to encourage trust and to build rapport with members of your company. As well as individual meetings, you can also consider organizing monthly lunches between upper management and a group of individuals from lower in the hierarchy.
“The “skip-level” strategy is fantastic, but only if upper management are approachable and have a genuine interest in what their employees have to say,” says James Torres, a business blogger at Writinity and Last Minute Writing. “All information discussed should be treated as confidential and you should aim to listen carefully to employees’ suggestions and comments. A small gesture, such as thanking them for their contributions, can go a long way in fostering a more positive and trusting working environment.”
It’s no good asking for feedback if you don’t then follow through and act upon it. In fact, if you don’t, then employees are likely to simply stop wanting to give any feedback, whether negative or positive, because they won’t see any benefit to it. Moreover, failing to act on feedback can lead to lowered morale amongst your workers, as well as creating distrust within your organization.
One of the most important aspects of providing feedback is feeling that you have the opportunity to speak up and be heard. Whenever you ask your employees for feedback, make sure to acknowledge it and thank them for their contributions. Once all the feedback has been collected, be sure to follow through and act upon it.
It can be particularly effective to share a summary of the issues which were voiced with your workers. This will show that you have genuinely listened to their comments and that you are committed to addressing them. If, for whatever reason, you cannot fully resolve an issue or you decide to go in a different direction from the one that was put forward and suggested, then ensure that you explain this openly and clearly to your employees. Explaining why decisions have been made is critical for forging positive, open and trusting relationships with your workers. Moreover, you’ll be able to maintain their engagement and willingness to continue sharing feedback with you.
In order for employees to feel comfortable sharing their feedback, you need to ensure that the workplace environment reflects and encourages this. As such, it’s essential that you adopt and nurture an open-door policy and environment within your company. If you want your workers to feel at ease discussing their opinions with you, then you need to ensure that you are approachable.
Make sure that your employees know that they can discuss and share their feedback with you at any time. You should also ensure that they don’t feel intimidated or threatened talking to senior management. This will help to build trust, particularly if you follow through with any relevant and necessary action.
“Whenever an employee chooses to approach you with feedback, make sure that you are respectful and polite. Avoid multi-tasking and instead take time to actively listen to them and their concerns and maintain good eye contact. These are all positive indicators that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say,” explains Katherine Rowe, an HR writer at DraftBeyond and Research Papers UK.
If you want your workers to feel genuinely comfortable sharing honest feedback with you, then start by being honest with them first. By being open and honest with your employees about the areas your company is struggling with and seeking to improve, you can encourage them to be honest with you in return.
Not only will this help to open up communication channels between you and your workers, but it can help to empower them and make them feel more actively involved in the company. For instance, by asking for their feedback and openly explaining why you are seeking it and what you intend to use it for, you may find that workers are not only more motivated to share their ideas, but are also keener to share potential solutions too.
If employees understand why their feedback is being sought in the first place and how valuable it is to the company, then they are more likely to want to share it. By being transparent with your workers, you will be much more likely to identify key issues, as well as find more effective ways to resolve them.
Involving your employees in problem-solving can be highly motivating and an effective way to encourage them to open up about their thoughts and ideas. When feedback is sought, there is sometimes a tendency to focus on the negative. Whilst it’s important to acknowledge problems and areas that need improvement, the key is to find ways to solve the problems and move forward.
One strategy which you can use to help structure employee feedback is to ask employees to identify their top three challenges or issues within the organization. Follow this up by asking workers to make specific suggestions on how these issues can be solved.
You can also do this in a large group, where you collect all the challenges and then anonymously redistribute them to other individuals within the group. In this way, not only do you gain valuable insight into specific issues within your company, but you also actively involve your employees in finding solutions, whilst sharing different viewpoints and approaches.
Gathering honest feedback from employees can be a challenging task. However, by implementing these strategies, you will be able to create an environment in which feedback is not only encouraged, but becomes a regular and normal part of your organization. Engaging in regular feedback with your employees will help to open communication channels, foster more productive dialogue and exchange of ideas, whilst making your employees feel valued and allowing your company to improve.
Ashley Halsey is a professional writer at Glasgow Writing Service and GumEssays. She has been involved in numerous projects throughout the country, including working with businesses to improve employee retention. When not writing, Ashley regularly attends business training courses, where she enjoys staying up-to-date with the latest trends and research. A mother of two children, Ashley enjoys traveling and reading in her spare time.
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