No matter how good you are at your specific type of business or industry, there is always room for improvement, even when you are a company leader. One of the best ways to gain insight into how you can help your company grow is by asking your employees.
There are also other advantages to asking them for their feedback; it shows that you trust them and boosts their company loyalty. But if you want honest feedback from your employees, you must ask them for it in the right way. Here are some tips on how to do that.
Getting the Timing Right
There are certain times when asking for constructive feedback is more productive than others. These include:
After a meeting or presentation: This is a great opportunity to gather feedback because you have your employees together in one place. It will enable you to develop a full understanding of a particular situation and how your employees feel about a specific project now that it has been completed.
It will also enable you to make changes to improve on future projects. Ask questions such as “how did the meeting work for you?” and “what do you think we could do better next time?”
During a performance review: Asking for feedback while you are processing your employee evaluation allows you an opportunity to talk with employees one-to-one. It also gives them a chance to comment on your leadership more candidly than if you were in a group meeting.
Ask questions like “What have I been doing to encourage or discourage employees?” and “How do you think I could improve this?”
On an ongoing basis: Small opportunities for feedback often arise during a regular work period. If you feel that employees would be more comfortable giving feedback anonymously, provide them with a survey that they can fill out online or a suggestion box. You may find that this empowers them to be more honest in their opinions.
Tips for Encouraging Honest Feedback
Feedback is only valuable if it is honest and constructive. Here’s how you can empower your employees to voice their opinions honestly:
Focus on the future: Don’t keep rehashing things you’ve done in the past. Direct your team towards how you can make improvements moving forward.
Avoid vagueness: Instead of asking general questions, be specific. Give them a topic to think about so that they don’t feel daunted by your question.
Encourage them to speak freely: Make sure your team knows that their honest feedback will be listened to and respected. Let them know how they are helping you by providing you with their opinion.
Don’t rush them: Your employees may need time to think about your request. So don’t press them to come up with answers too quickly. It might be a good idea to ask them for feedback then agree to meet again at a later date to discuss their ideas.
Providing an Appropriate Response
If you want to build a company culture in which people feel comfortable providing feedback, you must respond to their comments appropriately. Otherwise, you will lose their trust and confidence and disempower them from sharing their opinions.
Your reaction to their feedback is crucial. Here are some tips to help you respond in a meaningful way to your teams’ feedback:
Listen carefully to what they are saying: If you come across as distracted or unfocused, you will lose your employee’s trust. Make sure you retain eye contact.
Don’t go on the defensive: Keep an eye on your body language and make sure you are not displaying a defensive stance.
Don’t be judgmental: Even if you disagree with your employee’s comments, don’t be tempted to argue.
Ask follow-up questions: This will show that you are listening and that you are interested. Make notes if your need to.
Make a commitment: Let them know that you will think things through and get back to them with any changes you intend to make based on their feedback.
Thank your employee: Let them know that you appreciate them giving up their time.
If you do decide to make changes based on your team’s feedback, do so as soon as possible, and communicate with them to let them know your intentions. If you remain undecided about how to move forward, you may want to think about talking to a consultant or mentor to help you come up with a clear plan.
Developing a company culture where candid feedback from your employees is encouraged requires a strong intellectual and emotional commitment to listening and communicating with your employees. Not all business owners or managers find this easy.
However, it is worth cultivating if you want your employees to feel they can trust you with their opinions and you are open to using their feedback to benefit the growth of your company.