Feedback is a crucial aspect of company communication—some would say it’s a key ingredient for success. Employee feedback enables workers’ voices to be heard and managers to gain insights into how to improve business operations and the work environment.
The problem is that getting employee feedback can be a difficult and delicate task, especially when you’re a small team in a small office. Here are four great tips for establishing a productive way to get feedback from your workers.
1. Promote a feedback-rich culture
Providing feedback to another worker or manager is not a time for someone on your team to vent frustrations. That’s why you have a rage room at your office, right?
The point should be to offer useful advice, as well as give objective praise and criticism backed up with examples. The overall goal of feedback should be improvement for both the employee and the company.
Building such a culture is not something you do overnight. It takes time. Ed Batista, an executive coach and lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, writes that establishing a feedback-rich culture involves creating safety and trust among the team, finding a balance between positive and negative feedback, and advocating personal accountability.
When it comes to having a successful feedback culture, comfort is essential. Your team needs to understand and feel relaxed around each other. They must also know that providing feedback to a superior won’t have negative consequences—because leadership wants to hear their opinions.
2. Make feedback part of the daily job
If you’re only going to ask your employees for feedback once a quarter, you add pressure to the process. This can have a negative impact. And you may make employees feel like their ongoing input isn’t a necessity to the company.
Getting feedback continuously is a good way to make employees feel valued. As a small business owner or manager, know that companies that regularly get employee feedback have 14.9% lower turnover rates than companies that don’t. That’s because workers feel valued when asked for their input.
So, how do you make feedback part of the daily job? As a leader within the company, you need to integrate it with the everyday routine. Here are a few ideas:
- Ask an employee for suggestions on a project.
- Take the team out for a casual lunch and get feedback informally.
- Have weekly one on one’s and quarterly check-in’s with your employees.
It’s also worth noting that when you’re giving feedback to an employee, it should never be impromptu. You should set aside time so they know what’s coming and have time to prepare.
3. Explicitly ask for feedback
The best way to get employee feedback is to simply ask for it. Of course, you need the proper work environment to ensure your team stays honest and accountable.
There are many ways you can directly ask for feedback from your employees, including:
- Anonymous employee feedback forms: This questionnaire could cover employee satisfaction, advice for leadership, things that should be changed, and more.
- Direct messages: Ask employees to email, message, or call you with any feedback they may have.
- Open doors: Tell your team your door is open—and actually keep it open.
Explicitly asking for feedback promotes transparency and openness amongst your team. Just remember to clearly recognize that input. It will benefit the company as a whole. After all, 69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized.
4. Recognize and compliment good feedback
When Steven Sasson, an employee of Kodak, invented the digital camera in 1975, he took it to his bosses. His goal was to convince them that this was the future of photography—and that the company should focus more resources on developing the technology.
But his bosses ignored his suggestions, convinced that nobody would ever want to look at pictures on a screen. Kodak filed for bankruptcy by 2012. A ‘Kodak moment’ became a thing of the past.
What’s the lesson here? When employees come to you with what they believe to be a good idea or strategy, actually listen. And it doesn’t have to be a groundbreaking invention.
When you realize that a worker has given you suggestions that can take your company to the next level, openly praise that employee and show how their input improved the company. Not only do 78% of employees say being recognized motivates them in their job, but seeing how you value their ideas and feedback will motivate other workers to provide their own suggestions.
Empower your employees and your company
An effective system for getting employee feedback is vital to driving your company forward. First, it makes your employees feel valued and happy (and happy employees are 12% more productive). Second, it guarantees you don’t miss out on ideas that can help your company build sustainable success.
To succeed at getting employee feedback, promote a feedback-rich culture, integrate giving feedback into day-to-day activities, ask for advice and suggestions, and give praise where praise is due. To do this you need a culture of transparency, trust, and accountability. Start by implementing that.
You’ll find that great feedback will come your way much more easily, no matter what specific methods you use.
Emily Kate Pope is the Managing Editor at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans. She specializes in all things small business finance, from lending to accounting.