There’s a theory in business that it takes an environment that encourages feedback from employees in order for a business to be successful.
That’s seems to make sense.
It’s important to have a leader in a business, but it seems the best leaders would encourage feedback, listen and implement the best ideas so the business can achieve its vision.
It would also seem to make sense that employees who feel that their work environment is not one where feedback is encouraged would want to leave.
In fact, when employees feel they aren’t being heard and that their efforts are not valued (by managers offering praise) they are very likely to leave at some point even if the pay is good.
So how do you properly manage employee feedback?
You want to encourage it, foster it and use it, but is it also important to not let it get out of hand?
Have Regular Conversations
It’s important to recognize that time spent having conversations with employee is not wasted time. We live in an era when it seems like we need to be ultra-productive. It can seem like we need to spend all of our time doing something: taking phone calls, answering emails, writing, drawing, whatever.
But it’s important to sit back and have time to interact with employees, co-workers, friends, family and more. This is valuable time and it can directly lead to improvements at your company.
One of the best aspects of my previous job was a regular meeting I had with my boss. We would set an agenda, but he was really good at asking certain questions like:
What have you been reading lately?
How’s your golf game?
What’s been frustrating you recently in the office?
The answers to these questions gave him insight into me, into his staff and into the business. He had his perspective on things, but he knew it was important to get the perspective of employees.
It also made me feel heard. It’s a simple thing, but know that your boss cares about you and what you have to contribute is important and it really doesn’t cost anything.
Listen To Rants, Ask Questions
Sometimes an employee just wants to be heard. This builds on the conversations you have with employees. I mentioned that you definitely want to ask questions in those meetings. The key for you as the leader in these meetings with individuals is to key in on what’s bothering them. In the moment it might not make sense to jump in with solutions and things like that. Sometimes the employee just needs to get something off their chest; they need to feel heard.
Once they do that they can move on and work without the stress of the frustration hanging over their head. This is a good time to simply ask questions. make the employee feel heard by asking questions. Ask for details. Ask for examples. Don’t make the employee feel dumb or anything like that.
Make them feel like you’re listening and that you care.
If something does require action then take the information, go back and have a think and come back with your best solution.
Provide Clear Vision & Reasoning
It’s a challenge for a business leader to take in feedback from employees and parse out the best and work to implement that.
I just saw this little nugget shared by Gary Player on Twitter:
A person who chases two rabbits catches neither. #focus
— Gary Player (@garyplayer) May 25, 2016
I love that quote. The takeaway is that if you focus on too many things you’ll never complete anything or complete anything of any substance.
It’s your job as the boss and the leader to take in all the feedback and then to prioritize what is best for your business.
This comes with practice and experience. It also comes with setting aside time in your schedule to do things like create lists of all the feedback you’ve been given and taking time to think about it all, organize it all and so on.
Then once you create your priorities it’s important to communicate the vision to the team. You obviously can’t please everyone in the sense that you’re using everyone’s ideas. Heck, there might be a very good idea that simply doesn’t fit well with where your company is going.
That’s where a vision comes in and helps with decisions. If your company vision is to build the best transportation devices and solutions for individuals then a great idea for a new laptop is not a good fit even though it’s a great idea.
When you talk to your team members about the priorities and what you’re all working on (and it’s important to do this) take the time to provide the reasoning. Talk about the opportunities, the risks, the costs and so on.
Recognize The Best Feedback
When you do use feedback in positive ways at your company make sure you provide recognition. Obviously you don’t want to take someone’s idea, implement it and keep quiet so that people in the company assume that it’s your idea.
Provide recognition for ideas that save money, make money and do all the good things for your company. This gets back to the idea that people love praise and positive feedback. When people feel appreciated and know they’re doing good things they’re going to want to do more good things.
And depending on the others in your company, they’ll see others be praised and want to do things that allow them to be praised. Certain people kind of go against this type of motivation. You can work with them to help them succeed. Sometimes you’ll just have to let them go. You want people on your team that want to do good things.
Knowing how to deal with employee feedback is vitally important to company’s success. Your employees want to be heard and they often have information that can lead directly to improvements at your company. You, as the leader, obviously have good ideas and know about the business, but the best leaders know how to listen to feedback, organize it and make changes. But they’re also good at providing proper recognition and proper reasoning for the vision of the company.