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Without employees, a company would be merely an empty shell. Employees are the ones “on the ground,” witnessing how things work—or fail to do so. They alone have access to valuable insights and opinions that can only arise from seeing policies in action. For them, decisions passed down from the top aren’t just hypothetical initiatives; they’re lived realities.
That’s why the art of crowdsourcing employee feedback to reach a consensus is an important part of any humane decision-making process. In order to tweak and improve best practices, or implement new plans, you need to know exactly what your workforce thinks. What’s working? What isn’t? According to a Gallup poll, only 32.6 percent of U.S. workers are engaged with their jobs. Taking their feedback seriously and implementing changes could boost that figure within your organization.
Here are three things to consider as you strategize on methods to collect employee feedback.
Ensure Actions Match with Words
First, you’ll want to identify any places in which your employees’ words aren’t matching up with their actions and body language. This could indicate employees are holding back what they really think to avoid ruffling feathers. To get to the heart of the matter, you should prioritize creating an environment where employees feel safe speaking up.
As one professor who specializes in workplace communication says in Harvard Business Review, “We have a deep set of defense mechanisms that make us careful around people in authority positions. That is why the information you’re getting from people multiple levels below you in the organization is likely to be filtered.”
Adjust your feedback collection mechanisms to protect employees with anonymity if needed, and work on promoting transparency in the workplace. But don’t make false promises—employee trust is hard to gain, and if you squander it by penalizing people for being honest, they’ll be hesitant to try again in the future.
Ask the Right Questions (the Right Way)
Part of collecting feedback is ensuring you ask the right questions. Avoid ambiguity, leading questions, either/or propositions and negative phrasing in your queries. Let’s say you’re evaluating job duties and responsibilities so you can optimally structure your department moving forward. Questions like these, courtesy of Entrepreneur, can help you gain better insight:
- – What would you change tomorrow if you were in my shoes? Why?
- – What do you like most about your job? Least?
- – How can I, as a manager, help you be more successful?
You’ll also want to present employees with a healthy mix of environments in which to present their feedback. While someone may not want to speak up in a full room, they could be more forthcoming in a one-on-one meeting. Likewise, a group poll embedded into interactive Google Slides can help people achieve honesty because dozens or hundreds of other people are answering at the exact same time. Since answers become visible on the screen as they pour in, a consensus (or lack thereof) will be obvious to everyone in the room, thus giving your company a jumping-off point for future discussions or action items.
Let Your Employees Know You’ve Heard Them
If you want feedback in the future, you need to act on current feedback. Thank employees genuinely for taking the time to offer feedback. Discuss how the department, team or company will incorporate it moving forward. And, if employees feel they’ve been wronged or otherwise ignored, own your mistakes and apologize in earnest. Part of collecting feedback is making it obvious why you’re doing so, and demonstrating you’re taking it seriously.
The art of crowdsourcing employee feedback to reach a consensus depends on what you ask, how you ask it and what you do with the information. Improving feedback methods can make your workplace a better, more communicative place to work, therefore boosting employee engagement and solidarity. Failure to do so will result in barriers to effective teamwork and repressed feelings.