How to get honest feedback from employees

17 Jul

How do you find out what your employees really think?

Feedback is a key part of employee management. Companies need feedback from all of their employees, not just entry-level staff members and new hires. Getting insight from your whole team is key to ensuring that everyone is happy and that all managers are also doing their jobs appropriately.

However, it's hard to obtain this feedback. Fearing retribution or stressful situations, employees may find it difficult to criticize their managers, even when the criticism is constructive and warranted. When companies fail to get the information they need, they lose their best people, often without warning. So how do you get the feedback you need while making sure everyone is comfortable?

Keep asking
As Entrepreneur pointed out, you need to be consistent in your requests for feedback. Asking just once rarely does the trick – employees need to know you're serious about it and actually care what they think. Make sure your team knows that meeting with the HR department or their direct manager is their right, not something that needs to be earned with superior performance.

Ask better questions
If your current methods aren't working, ask more probing questions. A simple "how is everything going" may not be direct enough to get the response you want. On the other hand, a question like, "How do you think your manager is doing," might be too direct. According to HR Morning, you should ask about how they would organize or manage a project. This can help you sniff out disagreements with management and help you identify staff with leadership potential.

Provide options
Your team members may approach feedback in different ways. Harvard Business Review suggested providing multiple methods for offering up their opinions. While one employee might prefer one-to-one conversation, another could be more inclined to be honest if given an anonymous survey to fill out. Managers might think their open-door policies are generous, but not everyone is comfortable voicing their ideas this way. Encourage managers to try out alternatives like taking someone out to lunch in an informal environment.

Develop a candid culture
If employees feel like speaking their mind is an acceptable thing to do, they will be more likely to do it. On the other hand, if your office lacks transparency, staff will feel like honesty is discouraged. You don't need to throw managers under the bus to create open dialogue. Simply allow staff at every level to discuss what is and isn't working about an approach or idea. In addition, know your team will stop offering feedback if they discover nothing changes when they do. Make sure managers take staff ideas and criticisms up the food chain so employees know they are being heard and continue to offer their ideas.

It might never be easy to gain direct feedback from employees, but continue to try new things, and you will soon gain the candid information you need to continue to improve the office environment. The right employee management software can make help you document any issues staff have and keep them on record for future reference.

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