Simply, a business cannot operate or succeed without its employees. Beyond just their work contributions, employees handle all the day-to-day aspects of your business in ways that you may only be partially aware of. Whether they are contending with errors in shipping orders or dealing with common customer complaints, the reality is that there are constant issues within your business that you probably don’t, but probably should, know about. But, alas, human nature sometimes clashes with business interests. Fears of backlash and retaliation from other people inside your company, or employees feeling their suggestions will just go unheard can stop your employees from speaking freely, providing feedback and sharing important information that you and your management team need to hear.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how your business can create an open feedback network, so your business can grow and improve.
First let’s look at 3 factors that can be impacting your ability to gather valuable feedback:
- Backlash – One of the main obstacles to employees voicing their opinions is that they will be “found out” and that something they have shared will compromise their career.
- Futility – Another factor that impedes employee feedback and growth is the futility of reporting problems. Past experiences may have taught employees that providing feedback is likely to fall on deaf ears. This may be because managers were distracted at the time or the company didn’t have an infrastructure in place to receive feedback. Whatever the reason, employees are paying attention.
- Bureaucracy – Other times, your business may be so large that the urgency of a problem may be lost by the bureaucracy set in place. Think about it; no one likes to be put on hold indefinitely for small problems. It may feel like pushing a boulder up a large hill just to push the issue through the existing process. Suffice it to say, few employees will go through this effort.
So, What’s a Business to Do?
While this may seem like an uphill struggle, there’s plenty of strategies you can implement in your business. Let’s take a look at some examples:
- Hold “town-hall meetings”. Facebook is famous for doing this every week, where employees get to pitch their questions directly to executives. This helps sidesteps the traditional problem in managerial hierarchy, where someone might take credit for another’s idea, leaving the originator to stew in resentment and animosity at being passed over. It also helps offset complacency and fosters a healthy, meritocratic spirit.
- Offer an open-door policy for complaints. While it is uncommon for a business to have a “closed door policy,” it helps to emphasize that your company and its future depends on how employees feel and how smooth the business runs.
- Be accessible. Even physical locations can be important, as someone who needs to voice an issue shouldn’t have to trek to different floors and even another building just to address a problem.
- Pay attention to body language—you may be listening, but, at the same time, providing threatening or condescending body language without knowing it. Take the phrase “she listened to me on my level” literally. As an example, there’s a difference between the bedside sitting manner of a doctor-patient relationship rather than a towering presence over a supine sick individual. Even having a desk between people is equivalent to having a literal wall.
- Make sure to establish what are the appropriate types of feedback as soon as an employee is hired so that employees know how to address concerns that are impactful to them.
- Create an ongoing culture of addressing problems and concerns. Allowing time during meetings, where at least one problem is focused on, can lead to great insight.
As you can see, this is just scratching the surface of what’s available to you as employer to ferret out how your business really runs.
Xemplar is a premier staffing and recruiting company based in the U.S. Mountain Region. We focus on the placement of great fit employees for companies that care about the quality of their people. We recruit across the entire organization, placing skilled trades, labor, clerical and professional positions. Our goal is simple: increase our clients’ profitability by adding capacity- or revenue-enhancing personnel and reducing their cost of bad hires. Contact us today to learn more about our services.