How to Receive Frank Feedback from Employees
Yes, you may have heard feedback from employees periodically. Are you sure that they are completely being honest with you? In fact, getting employees to give frank feedback can be like pulling teeth. After all, no one wants to upset their boss with complaints, criticism or suggestions. But just like employees, employers need to hear the good, the bad and the ugly.
While positive feedback encourages people to continue doing what they do well, it is the constructive feedback that helps people — and businesses — grow. Eliciting honest, constructive feedback from employees can be difficult, but not impossible. Instead of outdated employee grievance systems that do not work, here are four ways employers can gain better insight through frank employee feedback:
1. Suggestion box? Get rid of it!
The anonymous aspect of the stereotypical suggestion box encourages employees to give their two cents because there is no fear of retribution. But that fear shouldn’t be present if a company has successfully developed a culture based on open communication and an ownership mentality. Employees should feel empowered and realise they have a stake in the success (or lack thereof) of the organisation.
Instead, allows anyone in the company to suggest ideas, gather support for those ideas and potentially have them implemented. Suggestion boxes keep ideas and suggestions hidden, rather than empowering employees to voice their opinions.
See: TINYpulse, Aiming Asia to Have Happier Employees
2. Trigger them by asking insightful questions
Having an open-door policy is great, but it doesn’t always motivate employees to come forward with their comments, suggestions or concerns. The key to bringing out truly honest feedback from employees is to take the time to meet with them in an informal, one-on-one setting.
Knowing what to ask employees during individual meetings, whether they are performance check-ins, lunches or exit interviews, is crucial to drawing out honest, actionable feedback. Asking questions such as these can help employers gain better insight:
- If you were in my position, what would you change tomorrow? And why?
- What are you hearing clients (or customers) say about our business?
- What do you enjoy most about your job? And what the least you enjoy?
- How can I help you be more successful?
3. Assign feedback coaches
It is one thing to receive feedback from a boss, but it’s another thing entirely to give feedback to a boss. The key to getting candid opinions from employees might just be to allow employees to choose who they give that feedback to.
Take the intimidation factor out of the feedback process. Instead of having employees report to their boss when it comes time to give or take feedback, encourage employees to choose from a list of designated “feedback coaches.”
These coaches are well-versed in handling employee feedback and, most important, take some of the fear out of the review process. Designating a select few to handle employee grievances could be the key to eliciting honest, constructive feedback on everything from management issues to business solutions.
4. Follow up employees
In the end, how employers elicit employee feedback is irrelevant if they don’t follow up with employees. When it comes to giving employers constructive feedback, the greatest motivator is to show employees their feedback is being considered or, better yet, applied. Employers can bet that once an employee has taken the time to give their opinion on a matter, they will be watching to see if their opinion is truly valued.
Even if an idea or suggestion remains just that, follow up with employees and let them know that their feedback is always appreciated and encouraged.
See also: Avoid These 10 Wrong Ways to Do Employee Feedback
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