How to get honest feedback from employees

You may be wondering how you can get honest feedback from your employees – indeed, this can be a challenge, especially when you own the business.

Who wants to risk offending the boss when feedback (however well-meaning) has the potential to adversely affect their job prospects, or earning power? But it is incredibly important to know how to get honest feedback from your employees, and find out what your employees really think about your management skills.

Without honest feedback, you may not hear about new ideas that could potentially advance your business, or you may not be able to improve on how you personally manage employees – which will cause your best employees to leave.

So while constructive criticism may be difficult to hear, it’s important if you want to grow and scale your business. Your challenge is making employees feel comfortable enough to give you that feedback.

Here are 7 ideas to point you in the right direction.

1. Introduce an open-door policy

Honest and genuine feedback comes from fostering an open-door environment where you and other leaders in your business are approachable.

An open-door policy means you welcome employees to come to your office with their ideas, comments, complaints, and suggestions.

To set the stage, tell your employees that you welcome constructive feedback, appreciate their advice, and that you will consider adopting their ideas.

You also need to honestly respond to those who come to see you. Remember, taking action on the feedback (even if it’s just an acknowledgement at first) is incredibly important.

2. Regular performance catch ups

Rather than a once a year thing, instigating frequent performance review catch ups help build trust and openness between you and your employees. This gives both sides the opportunity to provide open and honest feedback.

The important point here is that you create an atmosphere of open honesty, where your employees can bring up things without fear of being reprimanded.

It’s important to document each review, and standardise the process. Modern HRIS platforms like Employment Hero can help you ensure that you are aligning company objectives with employee goals, while monitoring your own performance against goals set for yourself through employee feedback.

3. Schedule casual one-on-one sessions

Scheduling casual one-on-one sessions with your employees is a good way to get them comfortable with giving you feedback in a private setting.

But remember, it all begins with your behaviour. They need to feel like they can share their thoughts with you – even if it’s something that you may not want to hear.

4. Team meetings

You can also get insightful feedback from holding regular team meetings. For some employees, it’s empowering for them to share and give input in a group setting when they feel they have the support of their fellow colleagues.

It’s always a good idea to have everyone briefed before the meeting so they can come prepared with their feedback at the ready.

5. Ask the right questions

If you want your employees to give you their opinion on an issue, ask open ended questions. For instance, if you want to find out about your communication and management skills, you could ask:

  • How do you rate my management style?
  • How can I improve the way I communicate to you and the team?
  • How has poor communication on my part impacted your ability to do your job?
  • If you were in my shoes, what would you change tomorrow, and why?

Try not to ask yes or no questions so you can get more detail.

6. Provide anonymous feedback options

If you’re having trouble getting your employees to open up, you can use a feedback app that will allow your employees to send you anonymous feedback from their phone. Tools like TinyPulse and others give the opportunity to capture employee responses privately.

At the same time, having a traditional Suggestion Box still has its merits and allows everyone to send you their thoughts in a discreet manner.

The point here is to ensure you acknowledge the feedback, and demonstrate to your employees that you are taking action based on their comments and criticisms. If you don’t do anything with the feedback, employees will disengage.

7. Survey your employees

While exit interviews have their place, you can use employee surveys on a regular basis to garner rich and actionable feedback from your staff about what they think about you: the good, the bad and the ugly.

You could incorporate these questions in your employee engagement survey to limit the number of surveys you send staff over the course of a year.

Conducting a survey can help you identify:

  • What your staff like and don’t like about your management style
  • Areas where you need to improve or make changes
  • Things you do (or don’t do) that bug your staff.

Online survey tools such as SurveyMonkey feature standard surveys you can use for measuring employee engagement as well as assessing your own strengths and weaknesses.

Follow up is critical

How you decide to elicit employee feedback is not as important as following up on it. Once an employee has taken the time to give their opinion on a matter, they’ll be watching to see how you take this feedback on board.

Using an HRIS platform, you can capture all this feedback and communicate progress. By showing trust in the judgement of your employees, you motivate them to contribute more and more to your (and the team’s) success.

Request a demo

If you want to see how your business could benefit from using Employment Hero to manage employee feedback (and automate a wide range of other HR tasks) book a demo with the team today.
Want to see more? Book a demo today.

Employment Hero is an all-in-one HR and payroll system, built to facilitate employee engagement for small to medium sized businesses. Your employees will have access to our marketplace of specially curated employee benefits from Australia’s leading insurance companies. Request a demo today.

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