4 Tips for Soliciting Useful Feedback from Employees

Eliciting honest (and thereby occasionally negative) feedback from your employees can be an uphill battle: nobody wants to get on their boss's bad side by bringing them complaints and criticism. Fortunately, teams that put in the effort to communicate with their staff could see great rewards, as employee feedback can be incredibly useful when you’re trying to assess and improve workplace procedures.

Any employer worth their salt should relish the opportunity to receive constructive feedback. By talking with your team, you'll find out if your management systems are effective in practice and on paper, which will identify ways in which your business can grow. Of course, communication is key, but there are other factors you should consider when trying to solicit useful feedback.

Ask intelligent questions

To obtain useful information, you need to create a culture of open door communication. This starts with encouraging conversation and showing a genuine interest in your staff, but it can also require you to take a more proactive approach.

Instead of simply waiting for people to bring you feedback, consider coaxing it out of them first. Begin by asking insightful questions to gauge how employees really feel about your way of doing business. Then ask how you might be able to improve or if they have any ideas about what you should be doing differently.

Additionally, there is perhaps no better way to receive a mass amount of actionable feedback than by sending out an employee survey. It's a great use of limited time and resources (compared to interviewing each staff member in-person). To get the best results, you'll need to make sure your survey is structured and written well. Ask targeted questions, but make sure you’re not fishing for certain responses. You don't want to influence their answers in any way, shape or form, as this could result in skewed response.

Look for nonverbal cues

When you’re asking an employee questions, it’s always a good call to look out for nonverbal cues. Sometimes, the information that goes unsaid will end up being the most valuable.

For instance, when you’re asking for feedback upfront, look at an employee's body language. Are they averting their eyes, slouching their shoulders or giving off any awkward vibes? If so, they may be holding something back that could prove important.

Although you should always respect their space and not be too intrusive, see if you can dig a little deeper.

Ask them why they feel uncomfortable and if they can explore some of the issues they may be having. Remind them that this is their opportunity to air any grievances and that what they say will remain strictly constructive.

Always follow up on feedback

When trying to create a culture of open communication, it’s critical you follow up on all feedback received. No matter who you’re working with, people like to know that their comments made an impact and that their time wasn’t wasted. This will improve your communication overall and facilitate discussions in the future.

Even if you don’t end up instituting their suggestions, follow up on their feedback anyway to let them know that their participation was appreciated.

Don’t get defensive

Whatever you do, regardless of the comments or criticisms you receive, don’t get defensive. Think of this as another resolution any facility manager should strive to keep. All of your hard work will go out the window if you decide to take feedback personally and lash out in the process. Keep a level head and open attitude whenever you’re asking for honest information. This will improve your interactions in the future and prove to your employees that they can trust you.

Collecting feedback doesn’t need to be difficult—all it takes is a little communication and some persistence. As soon as you start showing interest in your staff, you’ll find that those around you are full of useful, valuable information. Some managers have a habit of focusing too closely on the big picture, and by hearing the opinions of those who utilize the business procedures every day, you may find some intelligent insights into how to fix a problem you never realized existed.

Article by Nick Masonmarch, OfficeSpace