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3 Practical Tools for Soliciting Feedback

Having spent years working in the restaurant industry, I can tell you for certain that engaged employees make or break the customer experience. A disgruntled host will be the first person a customer interacts with when they walk in the door. If the host is late, rude, or otherwise less-than-ideal, it doesn’t matter how good the food and décor is because the experience is ruined from the start. This applies to all industries and all customer-facing positions. One of the ways to turn a disgruntled employee into an engaged employee is to solicit their feedback, particularly about their managers. You will find 3 practical tools for soliciting feedback below.

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”

-Bill Gates

Tool #1: Surveys

The most efficient way to begin soliciting feedback from your entire employee population is with a survey. Surveys allow you to gather feedback without spending too much of your employees’ valuable work time. Surveys also add the benefit of being answered anonymously, which can allow employees to be more candid. Some examples of good survey questions are: How often does your manager have one-on-one meetings? How confident do you feel your manager looks out for you best interests? These questions can often be asked on a Likert-scale ranging from “never” to “always”.

Forbes gives six reasons why surveys will benefit your organization:

  • Identify areas for improvement
  • Provides a level of anonymity to responses
  • Drives employee engagement
  • Segments data by population/demographics
  • Aligns values with practices
  • Provides managers with actionable feedback

The biggest problem with surveys is that they often don’t explain WHY the answers are given. It’s important to know that an employee doesn’t feel that their manager looks out for their interests. But it’s even more important to know why and how to improve so that the employee is confident and engaged. The next two feedback tools help address the lack of “why” inherent in surveys.

Tool #2: One-on-one Meetings

Anyone who’s read my newsletters or worked with me knows that one-on-one meetings are the most valuable but underutilized feedback tool. Simply put, managers often don’t make the time to have important, tailored conversations with their employees. One-on-one meetings are where managers can get to the meat behind the WHY of survey answers, sub-par employee work ethic or attitude, and myriad other issues in the office. Set aside just 10-20 minutes, bi-weekly, to make sure that you address employee concerns individually. Yes, that means 10-20 minutes per employee! It’s a manger’s job to build trusting relationships and to provide candid feedback to each employee.

Be careful to avoid these top three mistakes according to Business Insider:

  • The meeting is a one-way monologue from the manager to the employee
  • Including office gossip or putting down other employees
  • Rushing the meeting and cutting it short

“90% of workers say they are more likely to stay at an employer that takes and acts on feedback.”

-Kelly Wong, Achievers

Tool #3: Stand Up Meetings

Stand up meetings come from the restaurant industry but can be used in any organization. The idea is to have a 10–15 minute group meeting with the entire team at the start of the work day. Set aside a few minutes of the meeting for employees to give their feedback about what worked and what didn’t work the day before. Even if the feedback can’t be enacted right away, the employees will feel like they’ve been heard. I bet you’ll notice improvements in attitudes and work outcomes with just 5 minutes of group feedback every morning!

According to Forbes, stand up meetings should follow these simple rules:

  • Start and end on time, every time
  • Last no longer than 20 minutes
  • Stay on topic without distractions
  • Leave time for questions

Keep it Simple. Keep it Focused. Definitely Keep it Inspiring.   –Steve

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