How to Encourage Employee Feedback in Your Culture

How to Encourage Employee Feedback in Your Culture
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Do Employees Speak Up in Your Culture?
Even though more companies are trying to encourage employee feedback, for many, speaking up at work can be difficult.  Our employee engagement expert’s recent research found that about half of employees don’t regularly speak their minds at work to both colleagues and managers.

The reasons vary.  Employees may not want to call attention to themselves, may be uncertain of how their opinion will be received, or may be afraid of offending someone.  Unfortunately, employee self-censorship is the common strategy to play it safe and avoid career-limiting moves.

But there are times when it is your job or your moral obligation to state your case.  And it is your employer’s job to see that you are operating in a healthy corporate culture that encourages open communication and dissenting opinions.  Open, honest, and thoughtful feedback is a critical factor in continuous improvement both for the individual employee and for the organization.

When employees feel good about voicing their opinions, organizations become better at managing change, innovating, and serving customers.

Feedback Readiness from the Individual’s Point of View
Employees need to feel secure enough to add their voice to the conversation; that feeling of security is essential to a healthy corporate culture.

  1. Know It’s Not Easy
    As an individual, recognize that it can be psychologically hard to speak up. Know that it can be an inherent challenge for some personalities.  But there are ways to make it easier to speak truth to power.
  2. Make your Motivation Clear
    Make it clear that your goal should be to share your perspective, not to attack or undermine anyone. Be open to asking questions, changing your mind, and focus on the relationship as much as you focus in “getting it right.”.
  3. Plan Ahead
    You can’t foresee all situations where you want to share feedback. But you can imagine some scenarios where your thoughts could help guide a team member, a decision, or avoid a poor outcome.  Think about how you might approach each situation and come up with a constructive way to start the conversation in a way that makes sense.

Feedback Readiness from the Organizational Perspective
Divergent thinking and different perspectives are essential elements for growth, connectedness, and innovation. Yet too many employees feel that their leaders disparage people who raise issues or go against the status quo.  Organizations that want to learn and grow appreciate those who share both positive and negative feedback because they care enough to try to make things better.

Healthy organizations want to hear from their employees.  They want their feedback, both positive and negative.  Healthy organizations encourage employee feedback so that they can reinforce what is working and improve any areas of weakness.  The question is, what kind of culture encourages employee feedback?

A Culture of Employee Feedback
The best leaders want all the information they can gather to determine if their culture – how work gets done – is getting in the way of peak performance.  They establish a process of gathering feedback through distributing regular surveys, both formal and informal, of employee job satisfaction; managing regular meetings where open discussion is encouraged; and providing safe opportunities for employees to offer new ideas for improvement.

You will know you are on the right path when employees feel that the company listens to and takes employee ideas seriously and when feedback to management is well received and followed up on.

The Bottom Line
If your employees aren’t sharing issues, hassle, and problems, it is worth trying to figure out why.  A culture of employee feedback helps you keep your finger on the pulse of what matters most to help your company to perform at its peak.  Are you doing all you can to encourage your employees to speak up?

To learn more about how to encourage employee feedback, download 8 Reasons Why Leaders Need 360 Feedback

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