Getting your employees to be brutally honest isn’t always easy but it will help your organisation grow in the long run. Here’s how to do it.
Ditch the suggestion box
Anonymity might remove the fear of retribution and encourage some employees to share their two cents but HR professionals shouldn’t be encouraging that mind-set, says leadership expert Andre Lavoie.
Instead, organisations need to embrace transparency – just like marketing agency, Quirk.
Abandoning the suggestion box, Quirk created a public process in the form of a flow chart on its office wall. The system allows anyone in the company to suggest ideas, gather support for those ideas and potentially have them implemented.
Employees often feel like their ideas will just get ignored if execs don’t approve but where suggestion boxes support this practice by keeping ideas hidden, the flowchart publicly displays them and empowers employees to voice their opinions.
Ask insightful questions
It’s likely your employees have a lot of great ideas – it’s just that they might not realise it. Just like a chat-show host, a good leader must know how to ask the right questions in order to get the most interesting answers.
“Knowing what to ask employees during individual meetings – whether they’re performance check-ins, lunches or exit interviews – is crucial to drawing out honest, actionable feedback,” says Lavoie.
He suggests asking employees questions such as these, to gain a better insight:
- If you were in my shoes, what would you change tomorrow? Why?
- What are you hearing clients (or customers) say about our business?
- What do you enjoy most about your job? Least?
- How can I help you be more successful?
Follow up with employees
If your employees have been brave enough to share some honest feedback, the very worst thing you can do is just ignore it, says Lavoie.
Even if you can’t take action to change or improve the situation, you should at least take the time to explain why. “Let them know that their feedback is always appreciated and encouraged,” he adds.