How to Create a Culture of Employee Feedback

How to Create a Culture of Employee Feedback
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Wouldn’t it be powerful to have a culture of employee feedback that kept your finger on the pulse of what matter most to help your company to perform at its peak?

Let’s Start with Customer Feedback
Today’s businesses seem to be rightfully obsessed with gathering customer feedback to know how they are doing and how they could improve  You can’t even go to the Post Office these days without being asked to fill in a survey.  Unfortunately, this kind of survey is often ignored unless the customer is either absolutely delighted with the service or absolutely disgusted.

Employee Feedback
Gathering employee feedback should be very different.  We believe that it is the responsibility of leaders and managers to create a culture in which employees feel comfortable speaking openly about their concerns.  To reinforce what is working and to improve areas of weakness, you want to hear from every employee — from the discontented and disillusioned to the enthusiastically supportive and engaged.

Recent research by DDI found that organizations where leaders practice and receive feedback from managers are almost five times more likely to have high-quality leaders and a strong leadership succession pipeline.

To create a culture of employee feedback, you need to understand the level of employee engagement among your workers and to develop an action plan that will address real issues and improve organizational health and performance.

Done right, the employee engagement surveys are confidential, purpose- rather than curiosity-driven, supported at the executive level, and include effective follow-up.  These surveys become the foundation for a culture of employee feedback and open communication – both of which support improved employee engagement and performance.

Follow-up Steps Are Critical
Once you’ve gathered survey responses, the follow-up steps matter even more than polling your employees.  What you do next sets the tone.

  1. Thank Everyone for Participating
    Surveys take time and careful thought. Send a prompt note of appreciation to employees for their participation.
  2. Look for Patterns
    Analyze the data for trends and choose key themes. Consider such factors as absolute scores both high and low, scores as they relate to benchmark data, scores that reflect an increase or decrease over time, and how scores compare among different departments.  Pay special attention to response rates overall and by group, as well as to any individual comments which can provide additional insight.
  3. Corroborate Your Findings
    Work with teams or focus groups to test your findings and make sure you’re on the right track. It helps to have different perspectives and to talk about how the feedback informs what needs improvement and how these pain points can be addressed.
  4. Create an Action Plan
    Develop just two or three initiatives that address the issues you have uncovered. Some companies do this at the executive level.  Others try to involve employees from all levels in order to get their ideas on execution and their buy-in.  Just make sure that the plan will have the desired impact and is both actionable and measurable.
  5. Share What You Know
    According to the timetable you set up at the beginning of the survey, share with employees what you learned and what you plan to do about it. Studies show that “companies with effective change and communication are 3.5 times as likely to significantly outperform their peers.”  Provide an overview of results for all and then have managers break down relevant results for their team along with a discussion on how the initiatives will be addressed at the team level.
  6. Now Begin Implementation
    As you begin the agreed upon action steps, don’t stop monitoring, measuring, and communicating in order to maintain momentum and establish accountability.

The Bottom Line
A culture of employee feedback includes regular surveys, both formal and informal, of employee job satisfaction, regular meetings where open discussion is encouraged and opportunities for employees to offer new ideas for improvement.  What’s not to like?

To learn more about how to create a culture of employee feedback, download 7 Tips on How Managers Can Increase Employee Engagement through Communication

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