When you think about feedback in the workplace, you probably think about the constructive feedback you give your employees. However, honest feedback given to you from your employees is important, as well. Just as feedback helps employees improve performance, their feedback can help you and your organization improve its performance. Here are three ways to start soliciting honest feedback from your employees.
Create A Safe Environment
The biggest reason why employees don’t share feedback is fear. If they feel no one listens, if their manager has a reputation for being defensive or even aggressive, employees won’t want to be honest – they will either tell you what you want to hear, or they will say nothing.
To create an environment where people feel safe sharing, start by taking an authentic interest in how your employees are doing and learning what you can do to help them achieve their goals. Go out of your way to ask your employees how projects are going, what obstacles they are facing, etc. Then ask, “How can I help,” and follow through. Even if the employee says you can’t help, check back in to see how things are going. By showing interest and following through, you will begin to sow the seeds of trust.
Own Your Mistakes
Building an environment where real-time feedback is offered and received allows you to fix problems long before they get out of hand. You can build that environment by showing your human side and taking accountability for your actions.
Owning your own mistakes shows employees that you are aware of your shortcomings and you can handle feedback. Employees will feel more comfortable sharing feedback when they see that you are a self-aware and accountable person who can admit mistakes and say, “I’m sorry” when it’s necessary. These behaviors humanize you, and you’ll find that they will be more likely to reach out when they need help and offer constructive feedback when they see areas for improvement.
Provide Anonymous Outlets
No matter how trusting your employees are, some will always be reticent to provide you with constructive criticism. That’s why it’s important to build anonymous channels for offering feedback. Suggestion boxes are a popular method, as are quarterly anonymous employee surveys.
If you make use of surveys, focus on specifics, and make sure not to ask leading questions. Word questions like, “How did you feel about the new performance review process?” Also, ask directly for feedback by asking things like, “What do you think went well with the new performance review process? What do you think did not go well? What would you suggest to improve the process even further?”
By being direct and protecting anonymity, you will foster an environment where people feel comfortable providing you with actionable feedback.
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