Your business is only as strong as the employees you hire. Yet in the frenzy of running a company and making money, it is easy to overlook your workers. After the initial induction and training process, you might be guilty of expecting them to get on with it, leaving them to their day‐to‐day tasks. This can be a big mistake, as your business’s viability will rely heavily on your employees’ insights and experiences.
Forgetting to ask?
Even if you are more pro‐active when it comes to your team, how often do you ask them for their feedback on the company as a whole, the working process, or their own role? Most companies schedule a yearly review. This allows you to feedback to your staff on their performance, set parameters to work towards, and it gives them a chance to feedback to you.
What some managers seem to forget is that every member of the team is equally important, regardless of their position or salary. If there is one missing cog, the whole wheel will grind to a halt, or at best, turn much more slowly. Each person has a part to play in the running of the company, and each person’s opinion is important.
Get the inside story
There are two aspects to employee feedback. The first is your staff’s take on the business as a whole and how they see it working or otherwise; the second is feedback on their own role, including the good, the bad and the ugly.
Your employees are in the thick of it and know your business like no‐one else. They can provide negative or positive feedback, and both are invaluable.
Starting with the positive – it means you are on the right tracks and have happy, satisfied employees. The trick is to maintain the dialogue and keep them there.
If the feedback is negative, at least you know about it and can start doing something to change it before the rot sets in. Losing good employees because you are not giving them the support they need is not only costly financially, but can have a big impact on the morale of the business.
Gather the evidence
Gathering feedback is all about setting up effective and regular communication channels that both you and your employees feel comfortable with. Your team will react in different ways to particular methods, so make sure you have plenty of different options available.
For example, ever been in a classroom when the teacher asks, “Any questions?” Of course, no one says anything, but as soon as you all leave, you start hounding each other, trying to find the answers you need. Some people just don’t like speaking up in public, and there are others who don’t like to speak up even on a one‐to‐one.
Invite them in
So what feedback options should you have available?
- An open ‐door policy – Make it clear your staff can come and talk to you at any point. Some of your staff will embrace this option, but you will need to repeat the invite over and over again, and make it clear you mean it.
- Regular one‐on‐one sessions – Don’t leave it to just once a year; set up regular meetings with your staff. Yes, it takes time, but the payoff will be worth it.
- An anonymous feedback box – Place a box in the coffee area where anyone is free to drop in comments at any time. Some people may abuse this, but it offers an option for those who are shy or scared to have their say. Restaurants and other customer based businesses use this technique all the time.
- Online surveys – Run regular surveys and ask key questions that matter to you. These again can be completed anonymously online, and you can collect the results at any time.
- Company forum – These can be great places to get feedback, but they also need to be moderated carefully. You don’t want any employees starting a mutiny!
- Peer evaluation session – Set up sessions where employees observe and assist each other for a set period and write a short report on the experience. The report should offer constructive criticism and positive points in order for you to identify strengths and weaknesses.
Know your strengths; work on the weaknesses
Getting feedback from your employees helps you identify strengths and weaknesses about key areas of your business. Bear in mind this feedback may include input about you and the management team, the operating systems, employee roles and the employees themselves.
You can identify if more training and support is required, how certain areas of your business could be run more efficiently, or how your employees relate to you and the management team. All of these points are valuable in the efficient and profitable running of your business.
Of course, feedback is only valuable if you act on it. If a common theme starts to materialise you know you need to do something about it. By following through and implementing some form of change if applicable, you will not only help grow your business, you will also demonstrate to your employees their worth to the company.
By listening and acting on advice, your employees will feel valued and a worthwhile part of the team. This will have a knock‐on effect of increasing confidence and morale, and will go a long way to strengthening the loyalty from your team.
So if employee feedback has not been an important aspect of your operating system, is now the time to make the change?
Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/juditk/ – CC BY-ND 2.0