Communication is most effective when it flows up and down a two-way street, without roadblocks. While this may seem elementary, many companies are just beginning to realize the value of employee feedback.
I was reminded of the power of open communication during a recent follow-up session with a client; despite major organizational changes the employee adaptation was swift, and the negative feedback was minimal. What was their secret? Company executives relied heavily on employee feedback and input when developing organizational changes, and implemented this feedback in meaningful ways.
Asking employees for their open and honest feedback and receiving that feedback without judgment is a powerful tool: a tool that can change the culture of an organization and drive performance.
If you want to engage your employees, build trust, generate energy and ultimately fuel performance, ask people throughout your organization for their ideas and opinions. That’s the first step toward redesigning your communication infrastructure and opening up new, two-way streets.
What’s the catch? One word: authenticity. To be successful, the request for feedback and ideas must be genuine and transparent. Employ these tips for ensuring an authentic and impactful employee feedback process:
Foster honesty. Ensure that the forum to provide information feels safe and free of fear of repercussion to all participants.
Be receptive. Create a feedback collection system that is open and does not unintentionally lead participants to a desired response.
Be transparent. Be clear and upfront about the purpose and intended use of the feedback.
Be inclusive. Invite a large array (if not all) of participants from across the organization both horizontally and vertically.
Set clear expectations. Let your team know that you will listen to all feedback but may not be able to implement or act on all of it; commit to utilizing what you can to inform decisions or implement new ideas.
Loop back around. Thank everyone for their participation and report back what you learned and what you plan to do.
Act. Be sure to do what you committed to with the feedback you received.
Asking for feedback should be a regular occurrence. It takes time and practice to create open, honest communication flow between leadership and employees. Every time I witness the transformation in people’s attitudes, body language and comments, it’s truly amazing – amazing that something so simple can produce such immediate results.
When employees witness their input being implemented as changes in management behavior or the testing of innovative ideas, you will cement a noticeable lift of your leadership profile and boost employee performance. You may even wind up with a team excited to talk about what’s working and what they want to accomplish rather than one mired in concerns and stuck behind road blocks.