Overly relying on formal feedback systems can backfire. Some employees may eventually find that these methods are not making their voices heard.
When these systems break down, managers must be proactive in soliciting radical and helpful feedback from employees. These inputs can potentially improve a team or an entire organization.
Below are a few ideas on how you can do that.
Dissent is helpful
Shunning valid criticisms and discouraging disagreement doesn’t help leaders.
When you enforce obedience in the most draconian way possible, people avoid saying what they truly think. And when feedback about crucial matters is lacking — be it the way you lead or the results of a project — it’s difficult to perform at your best.
Encourage your followers and other colleagues to push back when they see something wrong. Ask them directly and sincerely what they think. It can be an uncomfortable feeling, but that feedback can inform how you make decisions and manage the team.
However, it’s understandable for some members to be less willing to share their views. For this situation, it may be worthwhile to use web survey software that gathers anonymous feedback from less expressive employees.
Regardless of the method, leaders should be genuinely interested in soliciting honest and helpful feedback.
It’s hard for the body to lie
Nonverbal cues can tell you how employees feel about your management approach.
In some cases, these cues are even more effective than verbal feedback. People may say or claim one thing, but their bodies — facial expressions, gestures — may tell a different narrative. Spotting these cues is crucial as a manager or leader.
If you see a usually expressive and energetic employee suddenly frown during a team meeting, that may be an indicator of an unresolved issue. When you see these little nuances in communication, don’t aggressively confront people about it.
Instead, be honest and approachable. Ask them what made them react that way despite verbally agreeing to what you said. And when they tell you the truth, acknowledge areas where you made mistakes and suggest improvements.
Your narrative may be flawed
It can be easy to follow your own interpretation or narrative on a particular issue. While it may be the most comfortable option, clinging to your story and biases can leave you blind to the heart of the matter.
Successful leaders have the ability to step away from their own narrative and invite others to provide their input.
Don’t shy away from asking employees to confirm or add to your narrative. Then use their insights to reassess your perspective. However, be wary of being too harsh on yourself. The goal is to gain a balanced perspective on things.
Good leaders are not distant from their employees
There are many people in leadership positions who don’t bother to get to know their employees. Some are obsessed with enforcing hierarchy or just don’t see a need for spending time with staff.
But such an approach can create more friction and miscommunication within a team. If leaders don’t know where employees are coming from and vice versa, well-meaning feedback and ideas can be misinterpreted.
Take the time to get to know who you’re working with. Learn what makes them tick and the things that get them excited at work. By fostering good relationships with colleagues, you can build a solid foundation for team camaraderie.
While there’s no need to overshare about personal matters and become close friends in the process, it’s important to make a genuine effort.