By Tyler Bray, Owner, The Trailer Parts Outlet.
As a manager, you will have days when you are thrilled to get feedback from employees, and other days when you just wish everyone (yourself included) could buckle down and get the job done. You might hit a season in your business where you hear virtually no feedback from people below you. Does that mean all is well? If only.
The reality is, sometimes employees solve their workplace problems by quietly polishing up their résumé. The culture you build will determine your retention rates. Retention rates will also determine how well your team develops institutional knowledge and fine-tunes their skill sets.
Why Is It Difficult For Employees To Offer Feedback Sometimes?
Many employees struggle to offer feedback because they believe it is not their place. They might have come from a workplace that had an “if you don’t like it, leave” culture. This means you might not be hearing about setbacks, inefficiencies and possible solutions and improvements. How can we solve this communication challenge between employees and managers? Here are a few ideas.
What Managers Can Do To Improve Employee Feedback
Check body language, tone of voice and reactions to the feedback you offer during meetings. What are your communication skills like during meetings? That carries over into your feedback conversations.
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Personally, I take the time to talk to each individual person on my team. When you develop relationships with employees, feedback isn’t something they deliberate over sharing with you — it naturally becomes a part of your workplace culture.
I know one-on-one conversations with teammates aren’t scalable. That’s a legitimate point, and I would say, treat feedback like other aspects of business such as new clients or sales. Don’t wait for it. Go out and get it as often as you can. The improved future of your operations depends on it. And remember, feedback isn’t always about measurable aspects of your company. Culture is not always about hard facts, but abstract feelings.
If some of your employees have their professional walls up too high, you might have a tough time getting true, actual feedback from them. To take a current example, I have sales reps who are struggling with our new process, new metrics and new packaging. Basically, outside of the scope of ordinary work, I might do an extra reward if an employee meets their goal. That might be treating them to lunch or a resort weekend, that kind of thing. You would be amazed at the useful conversations that emerge in these “after-hours” settings.
How Employees Can Give Better Feedback
Employees, you are the lifeblood of the team, and you make everything possible. That said, cultivating maturity will amplify your message and you will never have to raise your voice. Remember the maxim: “Speak because you have something to say, not because you have to say something.” Remember that time is precious and getting to the point early will never hurt a mature leader’s feelings. Just be honest and adult, be focused on collaborations and solutions, and all will be well.
The Outcome Of A Better Employee Feedback System
When you use an employee’s idea, they feel they own the result. They might take ownership of the outcome like never before. You could see a spike in engagement in a way that can’t be measured in numbers, but can be felt in energy and attitude. Remember, everything is about the direction you are moving in. Did you move toward more engagement and ownership or away from it? Be the kind of business leader who uses feedback to create an engaged team that owns their results.