Giving your employees regular feedback can point them in the right direction, and ultimately improve their performance. But although it’s important to help employees realize their strengths and weaknesses, it’s also important that you seek feedback from them.
As a manager, supervisor or the owner of the company, you know your job inside and out. But given everything on your plate, you might overlook smaller details -- details that could improve productivity and contribute to a smoother workday. Feedback can bring these details to your attention; plus, when employees are encouraged to give feedback, this can increase their satisfaction and enthusiasm for the job.
The question remains, how to effectively gain employee feedback. The truth is, some staff members aren’t comfortable giving feedback to their superiors, perhaps because they don’t know how the information will be received. However, if you create an open-door policy in the office, it’ll be easier to keep the lines of communication open.
#1. Be Approachable
Even if you welcome feedback, your employees may not offer their opinions if you’re standoffish. It’s easier to offer feedback and constructive criticism when both parties are approachable -- this puts everyone at ease. Therefore, aim to build a good working relationship with your staff. Get to know them on a personal level, and periodically make small talk during the day. It’s also important to smile and avoid tense body language, regardless of how stressful your day may be.
#2. Have One-on-One Meals
Some managers ask for employee feedback during team meetings. This can work. Just know that some people aren’t comfortable offering feedback in front of a group; and if they do, they might hold back. To truly learn what’s on your employee’s minds, schedule one-on-one meetings with your staff, preferably over lunch. This way, the two of you can chat in a relaxed environment with fewer distractions.
#3. Be Specific
If you request feedback from employees, be specific. Simply asking for feedback is a very broad statement, and employees may not know how to respond. However, if you narrow your question and focus on specific areas, it’ll be easier for employees to respond. For example, you might seek feedback on ways to build employee morale, or ask for feedback regarding ways you can improve as a manager.
#4. Keep Feedback Private
Depending on the nature of feedback, some employees may make comments regarding other departments or coworkers. To gain effective feedback, it is important that employees trust you with this information. From the beginning, inform employees that all feedback is private; and if you plan to share their feedback with another manager, mention this early on. Employees will not willingly provide feedback if the meeting isn’t confidential.
#5. Provide Advanced Notice
Don’t catch your employees off guard. Calling a staff member into your office and asking for feedback puts this person on the spot, and he may not be prepared to offer feedback. For effective feedback, give the employee one or two days advanced notice of a meeting. Therefore, he or she has time to go home and think about the question.
#6. What’s the Purpose of Feedback?
An employee may eagerly offer feedback if he or she knows the purpose. Are you only looking to trade information, or will you use feedback to improve working relationships and productivity in the office?
#7. Use Employee Surveys
There isn’t always time to schedule meetings with all your staff. To gain their feedback, take advantage of anonymous employee surveys. You can ask a series of questions and get your employees’ honest responses. Common questions to include on an employee survey include:
- How do you feel about coming to work each day?
- Do you feel proud to tell people that you work here?
- Do you feel that you’re paid fairly for your work?
- What suggestions do you have for improvement?
- How can we help you succeed in the company?
Even if you’re an excellent company owner or manager, employees are a valuable asset. Most companies cannot survive without a strong team. Therefore, it’s important that you consult with your team and gain feedback that can take the company to the next level.