Last week I was fortunate to be working with a great team facilitating multiple group feedback discussions. The goal, to help the senior leaders in the organization learn firsthand the challenges that their teams were facing. We focused on three key areas – people, processes, and systems. Many times, organizations treat these three areas as separate strategies. From an employee’s day-to-day, these are all interrelated, and employees have expectations across them. In order to understand if you’re meeting their expectations, you must get and analyze employee feedback.
What can we do to ensure the process is effective?
Prepare. No one likes surprises, the unknown, or an unorganized meeting. Plan on how you will facilitate the conversation and get people to open up. Allow your people some time beforehand to reflect and prepare on the topics that will be discussed.
Engage. Naturally, some people will be hesitant to share issues, while others will want to take over. Facilitate a balanced conversation that encourages participation by everyone. Set the expectation that it’s a safe environment. Use an exercise like Start, Stop, Continue or Rose, Thorn, Bud to engage the team.
Listen. It’s easy to deviate from this skill in a group feedback setting. Colleagues will sometimes want to walk away with solutions to the issues. You may be tempted to provide excuses for the problems. Neither is a goal of the discussion.
Now, what happens after the feedback is collected is most important.
Prioritize. The larger the group, the more feedback you will get. Prioritize on what can be tackled based on resources, scope, timeliness. Choose to tackle too much and you end up where you are at today.
Share. Your people want to know what other feedback was shared by their peers. Share your findings highlighting common themes, topics, and challenges. Share the plan to address the pain points. For sensitive comments or items shared in confidentiality, honor that.
Execute. Your people want change – when things aren’t working. Feedback is useless unless your teams know that change is happening. Determine what can be done at the group level and what can be done at a team level. Help them see that it didn’t end at the “we want to hear from you” phase.
Communicate. Your teams want to know what progress has or hasn’t been made along the way. Communicate, and communicate often, the successes and challenges you’re facing in addressing the issues. Be honest, explain the why, and take ownership. Your people will trust you more, and they will appreciate it more than you know.
We can always assume what the workplace issues are that make it challenging for our people to have a great employee experience. It is so much more efficient to just start a dialogue about it.