You mean feedback from my employees?
Yes. That’s right.
When I think about the front line, I think of the soldiers during World War II doing it hard in the trenches, fighting for their country. Looking at the front line from a business perspective, your employees are not dissimilar to these soldiers. They are the ‘soldiers’ at the front line of your business, working directly with your clients and customers and ‘fighting’ for the success of your company.
Last year we blogged about the importance of providing feedback to your employees and the team on the front line, but how often do we think about and seek their feedback, listening and learning from them?
Sometimes, as employers, it can feel like all we do at work is to provide feedback to Peter on his proposal, reviewing Melissa’s report, conducting a mid-year performance review with Michael. We often find that there is never any issue with the feedback coming from the top down in an organisation, but creating an environment where it goes from employees, up is less common. And it shouldn’t be so. Just like our employees, employers need to hear the good, the bad and the ugly.
It can be incredibly insightful to hear views from employees. However many don’t want to upset management with complaints, criticism or suggestions. Employers should always be encouraging about staff offering information in a way that boosts the process of acceptance, reflection, learning, and hopefully action to make changes for the better. While positive feedback encourages us to continue doing what we do well, it’s the constructive feedback that helps us – and businesses – grow.
Here are HR Central’s top tips when it comes to getting feedback from the front line of your business.
1. Have an open mind
Often feedback can be hard to hear, but employees can be your most honest critics. Keep an open and approachable mindset, don’t see feedback as the enemy and become defensive. Remember, employees will often know your culture and clients more intimately.
2. Ask questions – lots of them!
Ask insightful questions– the more you ask and the more often you ask, the more likely your team will start to feel comfortable and give you some feedback. Consider open ended questions like, “how can I help you be more successful?”, “what sort of feedback are you hearing from our clients?”, “what would you change about how we do things if you could?”
3. Listen and observe
It can be hard when not to go straight into solution mode. Don’t jump through the steps too quickly, give them an opportunity to get it all out and really listen to what is being said. Don’t forget to look out for non-verbal cues too – these might show satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
4. Take Action and follow up
Show your team that their thoughts and ideas will always be valuable and taken seriously by taking action. If you treat them with respect, the better and more open they will be to hearing from you when you have your own comments. Once you have or have not taken action (depending on the circumstances), make sure you follow up. It can’t be stressed enough – let them know what your plan is to action the feedback.
5. Walk a mile in their shoes
We hate to admit it, but I am sure we have all watched the TV show Undercover Boss. As entertaining as the show can be for the audience, the value for the Owner/Director/CEO is tremendous. If you feel that your team don’t feel comfortable to open up and give you feedback, spend some time with them on the frontline, you may be surprised what you find out.
6. Create a culture of feedback
Aim to develop a culture of open communication, transparency and an ownership mentality. The more common and ‘normal’ feedback appears, the more likely the team will be to give it.