When employees feel free to give honest feedback, leaders thrive.
Managers, how do your employees feel about you? Do you know for sure? And, if so, did that information come from direct and honest feedback? Becoming better at seeking out your workers’ opinions and taking them into account can improve your managerial style and outcomes, but this process isn’t automatic. It’s a learned skill.
Becoming a good listener and taking suggestions are especially important, because these are certainly traits you’ll want to see in your team members. By extending the same courtesy and consideration to your employees that you demand from them, you’re well on the way to creating a more functional and positive office environment.
Seeking out insights
The process of gathering truly honest and useful feedback is more complicated than just ordering your workers to speak their minds. As Entrepreneur recently pointed out there’s an understandable hesitance in employees to say things that might worry or upset their managers. However, if you’re going to learn from your team members, it’s up to you to extract just those kinds of insights.
The source recommended breaking through to your employees with probing questions rather than just giving them a freeform space to express feedback. By focusing on what you want to know, you can guide the conversation and coax suggestions team members might not spontaneously think of. For instance, you can ask what their top priority would be if they had to lead the team, or what the best thing you could do to help them excel.
Of course, once you’ve collected insights, you have to use them. Entrepreneur explained that it builds trust between workers and their managers when team members see their suggestions turning into concrete action. When you can make changes productively, it pays to let that show, and when the ideas just won’t work, you should be up-front about it and keep soliciting advice, rather than closing the proverbial door.
A new culture
Around the corporate world, office environments are going through many changes, and this evolution can help you collect feedback – if you let it. CIO pointed out that companies are attempting to move to models of communication that encourage workers and their managers to voice opinions at all times, instead of restricting these activities to dreaded performance review meetings. This type of model helps you collect feedback, provided you implement it well.
The news provider pointed out that when you show your willingness to learn from employees and hear their concerns on an ongoing basis, this helps ensure open communication becomes normal within the office. If you expect your workers to be receptive to your criticisms of their work, but don’t acknowledge their feedback in return, you may be asking too much. A real feedback culture has mutual respect at its base.
Learn to learn from others
If you’re unsure how to optimally encourage and process feedback, that’s not a problem – this is a skill you can acquire, and through quick training sessions, you can strengthen your approach. Once you’ve engaged in the relevant learning, you can exert a positive influence over the whole office, letting the new knowledge inform your next moves,
There are courses aimed specifically at gathering and using feedback, such as “Leadership Feedback: What employees want to tell you…but don’t!“, a video-based training course from MasteryTCN. As the name implies, this is all about understanding how to make employees open up with their concerns and opinions, even if they are initially hesitant. Sometimes, the answer to creating an open dialogue with your workers is to take the first step and ensure you’re giving them honest appraisals of their own work. Training your management style through courses such as this can strengthen your team from the top down.