As a business process, collecting employee feedback can often be overlooked or worse, ignored. It can be a lengthy and resource intensive process. But consider the consequences of an unhappy, unsatisfied, and unmotivated staff. First, employee turnover will increase which means increased overhead costs for training new employees. Second, having poor employment reviews on websites like Glassdoor makes hiring superstars next to impossible and does long-term damage to your brand.
All employees, especially top performers, require regular feedback to stay sharp and productive. Although there's no one single best way to address employee feedback, there are ways to make the process easier for you and your organization.
Collect employee feedback
Online surveys are the most common method of collecting employee feedback. You've likely filled out a feedback survey or two during your career. Employee feedback surveys are typical of large organizations with a large number of employees because of their efficiency. Granted, surveys are the most impersonal format for collecting employee feedback, but it is often the only method for large teams.
Bots and apps
The rise of AI, advanced language processing, and machine learning has created an automated way to collect employee feedback. Chatbots, in particular, are a popular tool employed by organizations to engage with employees. Chatbots attempt to facilitate interaction with employees in a natural and conversational way.
Because the technology is relatively new, the jury is still out on the effectiveness of chatbots. On one hand, chatbots are a cost-efficient and scalable tool that does not require intervention from management. On the other, chatbots can be seen as a band-aid solution for leaders looking for an easy solution.
Young employees, especially millennials, have experience with chatbots and immediately recognize when they are speaking with a bot and not a real person. Take that as you will and really think before you decide to use a bot to collect feedback from your employees.
One-on-one interviews are, as they've always been, the most personal way to engage with employees. They create quiet, focused collaboration time for employees and bosses to connect. This way, employees can bring up sensitive topics, problems or issues they wouldn't bring up in a group setting.
Be aware of quieter, more introverted employees, as a one-on-one may not be the best solution. It can put a lot of pressure on the employee to be open about their issues, something not everyone is comfortable doing face-to-face. Some may prefer the anonymity an online survey provides. It's definitely something to consider when selecting which method of collection to use.
Analyze employee feedback
Order by sentiment
Naturally, the comments you receive will be both positive and negative. The first step to analyzing your employee feedback is to organize the comments based on sentiment. This helps you identify two things -- what actions you should continue doing and what needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
The entire basis of collecting employee feedback is to improve the business for your staff and customers. Showing that you are committed to closing the loop and addressing employee feedback improves retention.
Sort comments into categories and sub-categories
After you've collected employee feedback, it's time to sort through the clutter and organize the comments into categories. Once you've decided on the categories you'd like to use, separate the comments into subcategories if needed. For example, sort comments by issues that deal with culture, productivity, or process. Sorting comments into subcategories is simply a way to help you organize your thoughts and figure out how to approach each issue.
Summarize results and plan how to rectify
Now that all the employee feedback you've collected is organized, you can begin to summarize the results. Summarize them in the best format possible for your team to digest, whether that be a snazzy powerpoint presentation or an informal meeting. Once the team is informed, it's time to create an action plan to address feedback with your employees.
Apply employee feedback
The best, most actionable feedback is specific feedback. Speaking in generalities is confusing for employees and doesn't provide a clear path to improve. Be as specific with your feedback as you can be. Instead of telling a sales person they need to improve their sales, provide specific suggestions for what they can do to improve. Could they follow up faster? Could they improve their pitch or the copy of their emails? Without specific feedback they'll continue to slump without a clear direction to head towards.
Don't wait for a review
Don't wait too long to hold employee reviews. The worst thing a manager can do is put off meeting with their team members on a regular basis, as this indicates a lack of caring. If you can't carve out a few minutes to check in with your staff, what does that say about how much you care?
Employees who are never given feedback tend to feel ignored or unappreciated. It's a problem that will grow over time and eventually create larger problems throughout the organization. Don't wait to hold review.
Focus on behaviours, not personality
Before you sit down to deliver your feedback, remember to focus on your employee's behaviours, not personality. By focusing on behaviours instead of personality, you're giving actionable feedback on something one can change. Personality, on the other hand, is trickier. For example, an employee may take offense to your criticism if you mention how lethargic they appear to be on the sales floor. Instead of focusing on an aspect of their personality, recommend how they can improve their behaviour by projecting their voice when speaking or to make the first move. Give your employee criticism that is actionable for greater results.
Conduct personal one-on-ones
When it comes time to deliver feedback to an employee, your best bet is to do it in person. No other form of feedback is as effective than an in-person meeting. Schedule a one-on-one sit down with your team member to discuss where things need improvement. During your meeting, show that you respect their time with the following cues -- maintain eye contact, listen attentively, and ask questions.
In large organizations, one wouldn't have the time to meet with every single employee.
At the end of your feedback session, make it known that training is available. The best organizations provide opportunities for their employees to improve. An education allowance, for example, is a common perk at many top-tier companies. Employees can access their education budget for things like books, online courses, and certifications.
Recognition and reward
Lastly, it's important to remember to consistently recognize top performers and those who show improvement. Employee recognition can sometimes be overlooked, but it is important to give praise when it’s due. Employees need to feel appreciated and know they are contributing to the overall company mission. Otherwise, they will grow resentful, bored, and unhappy, which ends up affecting company morale.
Make it a point to recognize every employee that contributes their best effort. Even a simply stated compliment, "Great job on the last campaign!" goes a long way to making a team member know they're appreciated. Promotions and raises are great, but the little actions make a big difference as well.
All successful organizations make it a point to collect, analyze, and apply employee feedback. They know without feedback, there is no growth. Start with the areas that are lacking.
If you're not even collecting a single ounce of employee feedback, then just start there.
To summarize, figure out how you'll collect feedback. Survey? Meetings? Chatbots? Pick the method that best suits your company culture. Next, take all the feedback and organize it in a way that is easy to digest, and sort those comments by sentiment. Lastly, figure out how you'll address the feedback and apply it in a way that benefits your organization and everyone working within it.
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