As a leader, you might sometimes find yourself in a tricky spot. You have unhappy employees. A specific project is getting behind. Hidden and unspoken issues are impeding workflow, but what can you do about it?
The simple answer is always to encourage open conversation and feedback. While feedback can be both positive or negative, we don’t have to tell you the likelihood of hearing the latter far more often. It’s a reality of almost every workplace. If, however, you’re going to request some, knowing what to do with feedback after it’s gathered is crucial. Here are a few ways you can get the most out of employee feedback.
Accept All Forms of Criticism As Feedback:
Feedback and constructive criticism are closely related. There are critical elements to negative feedback that may be a little uncomfortable to address, but the issues cannot be ignored. When someone complains, thank them. Tell them you intend to look into the problem and get to the bottom of it. Following your words up with action then builds trust in you among your subordinates.
Be Gracious, Even If You Know They’re Wrong:
If an employee comes to you with a complaint, your response should always be the same. Say, “Thank you,” stay neutral, then start collecting the facts. If you know going in that the complainant is wrong, don’t use moments when emotions are running high to address this. Approach them later or delegate the task out to that person’s immediate supervisor.
Respond On All Feedback:
Don’t categorize your responses to feedback based on things like perceived relevance. To the person giving feedback or launching a complaint, the importance is equal. Take a stance somewhere in the middle. Respond quickly, but do not pander. Keep your responses and actions consistent. This shows that you weigh every problem, issue, or employee opinion the same.
Acknowledge People Whose Feedback Leads to Change:
If you use someone else’s good advice, give them credit. Also, remember those who gave good feedback when deciding on who gets the next open management slot. Lending value to employee input encourages others to step up.
Lastly, when an employee has an opinion or complaint, listen. You want your subordinates to find you approachable, and they want to know that you are on their side. How you manage feedback says quite a bit to your people about the value you place on them.