Employee feedback is vital to the ongoing development of your employees and to your business as a whole. After all, a business is only as good as the people within it, and good leadership means supporting and encouraging the talent within your organisation. Employee feedback is an essential tool to help ensure everyone is operating to their full potential and fully engaged in the business. And giving quality feedback, and being open to feedback makes it easier to improve and develop performance over time.
Positive feedback is easy – it’s not hard to tell someone they’ve done a good job, or congratulate them on meeting targets. But it’s easy to become complacent about giving praise when things are going well. On the other hand, giving negative feedback is not as easy. It’s human nature to put off difficult conversations. And seeking two-way feedback can be tricky where there is a power imbalance – not everyone is comfortable ‘critiquing’ the boss. Having a process in place for attaining 360-degree feedback on a regular basis is important. But a process for actioning that feedback is just as important and is often overlooked.
Collecting feedback is just the start of the process. It’s what you do with that information – the focus areas you identify and the actions you take to address them – that impacts employee engagement and satisfaction within your organisation. Ultimately, engagement is the outcome of an ongoing process referred to as the ‘employee feedback loop’ – collect, understand, act. And it’s the ‘act’ part that I often see letting businesses down.
In fact, consistently failing to communicate and act on employee feedback can be quite detrimental. Employees become sceptical; they become less willing to provide candid and honest feedback; they feel disappointed at the lack of action and begin to see the process as pointless. If you’re not going to act and follow-up on feedback, there is little point gathering it.
When employees offer feedback, they do so with the hope that there may be action or change. People want to be listened to and acknowledged. They hope to make a difference in some way, especially when they are frustrated by something or see an opportunity that isn’t being capitalised on. This isn’t to say something always needs to happen on every single piece of feedback, but you do need to close the loop and share results to let employees know they have been heard.
Organisations need to carefully review and analyse what has been learned through employee feedback and be as transparent as possible. This transparency and honesty is a vital aspect of the process. Letting people know you have listened to them and showing them how the feedback is being actioned is an essential ingredient for motivation and engagement.
A good feedback process where employees feel listened to, and that their opinions are valued aides a positive company culture, improved engagement levels, and ultimately may improve the bottom line with value added improvements. Remember the loop: collect, understand, act.