Retaining and engaging employees will always be important to business success, which means a continuous search for the answers on how to combat high turnover rates. At the heart of this search is conversation. Not the conversation of HR experts or employment professionals, but the conversation of the employees. The best way to know what will satisfy employees and boost productivity is to go directly to the source.
Feedback loops are traditionally a practice used with customers, and are built to better a product or service. The general concept is to analyze processes or structures, garner feedback from groups that generally struggle to articulate their feelings, and implement improvements.
When it comes to feedback conversations, leadership and executives are familiar with delivering the feedback, but what employees actually need is guidance. This is especially true when speaking with the leaders who sign their paychecks and make wage decisions.
The Pulse of Your Organization
Giving employees feedback is a hot topic. Workers desire direction, even in the form of constructive criticism. Though it can be time-consuming, most leaders are trying to find ways to build more feedback into management programs, hoping to answer that desire and see improvements to their business. While this is great news, the conversation shouldn’t stop there. Plus, even the most tenured leader has much to learn from their employees.
Employees know when they are, and aren’t, producing their best work. They are the first to notice when team progress is wavering and when deadlines will be missed. If satisfaction with their position is waning, it will be their frustrations and personal career goals that will inspire a job search. And no matter how close to the team you are, subordinates have a better idea of how their coworkers feel than leadership ever will. The problems you can’t see are the ones employees face every day. Unfortunately, even though they know the issues, employees aren’t usually in a place to offer or even see viable solutions. That’s where you step in.
Creating a Feedback Loop
As “loop” suggests, the feedback loop process starts with a decision, project or problem, measures the impression of the audience it affects, and then moves to solutions that can be built into the process. Any improvements can then enter the loop to be analyzed and pivoted, or continued.
For simplicity sake, feedback loops in employment communication techniques solicit detailed impressions from employees and develop solutions that can be actualized. Some management teams may already perform informal feedback loops. For example, performance reviews are often built to include dialog around an employee’s career goals or challenges they face while working, prompting the individual to share positive and negative experiences.
A more structured feedback loop takes that process further, ensuring more details are gathered, in hopes of creating better solutions with actual follow through. How do you build a feedback loop that answers that tall order?
- Begin with hard hitting questions. Information gathering is the first step in creating a feedback loop. The hope is to have your employee share any hidden secrets, so prepare scripts with specificity to the employee for one-on-one meetings. Understand their role and ask questions about certain aspects. If you want to hear candid responses, you need to be detailed and thorough in your questions. Don’t be afraid to ask how they are feeling, what issues they face day to day and if they have ever felt unheard. Your attention to detail might remind them of a problem they faced last month that even they forgot.
Bonus tip! Also, consider following up any big company change with additional one-on-one meetings. Your employees will appreciate the chance to air opinions.
- Respond and act. When the employee has shared their feedback, remain professional. Note the issue and work with the employee to build a solution. There will be times the name of co-workers or fellow leaders are mentioned, so note patterns and areas that are consistently being recognized as hindrances or opportunities. Above all, make sure you follow through. Employees won’t open up unless they feel their opinions are heard and taken seriously.
- Make it a habit. Building a culture of feedback means being open to opinions and thoughts from day one and on. These hard-hitting conversations should start at the beginning of employment with new hire onboarding, and carry on through performance reviews, trainings, and development programs. What begins one loop, will generate the next and so on. The more of a habit these conversations become, the more comfortable your employees will be in participating. More participation means more feedback and a better pulse on your organization.
Do you have a surefire technique to discovering your employees’ challenges? Share them with us on Twitter @Trakstar_hr!