No climb up the corporate ladder is without innumerable assessments and feedback sessions. Now that you’ve made it to the upper rungs, you may find that less feedback and criticism is coming your way. One of the perks of being the top boss, right? Or is it?
There are times when a lack of feedback can do more harm than good, no matter what your position is in the company hierarchy.
Bosses should get feedback, too. At some point, this feedback will inevitably come from someone lower in the organisation. Firstly, the fact that someone in your organisation is comfortable giving you feedback is in itself a testimonial. It means that you have created or belong to a fair, flat company structure; that employees can discuss such things without fear of retaliation.
How you receive criticism from the lower rungs has major repercussions on your management style and the company culture, to say the least.
Here are the 5 ways you can make your employees’ feedback work for you:
1. Accept that it is vital for your self-development and growth:
No man is an island. Where there is work, any work, there is always room for improvement. Sometimes the best ideas can come from somebody at the coal face. Let your employees know that you keep an open mind and that they can approach you to comment on management issues, and that you plan to use constructive criticism for your own growth as a leader.
However, this in itself may not be enough to get people to reach out to you. Consider setting up anonymous feedback forms where you can collect feedback from the anonymously. Do note that giving feedback to those higher up in the company is not a cultural norm in most places, so systems like these can help.
2. Be proactive and persistent in asking for feedback:
It starts with you. It is rare that employees will come out and deliver feedback or criticism on their own. By proactively asking for their opinions and feedback, you set the stage for open communication throughout the organisation. It may take a few tries, but eventually, subordinates will feel comfortable discussing sticky issues with you without fear of reprisal.
Make feedback a part of weekly review sessions with time set aside for those who need to discuss things in private. The more you make a habit of offering feedback, the closer you get to receiving some yourself.
3. Verify the authenticity of the feedback before you act on it:
This is extremely important. You may have to talk to a few of your trusted subordinates to try to pin down where a certain negative piece of feedback originated. The more data you gather, the more efficiently you will be able to get to the root of the issue. Data will help you understand others’ reactions to it and objectively chart out an appropriate course of action.
Remember, in its nascent stages, the feedback process may look a lot like mudslinging. You need to be objective about the feedback you receive and treat it as would a neutral third party.
4. Establish a feedback loop or hire expert help:
There are programs in place to collect 360-degree feedback, a popular system for gaining a more holistic view of the organisation. You could set up an anonymous survey to be distributed to employees at the click of a link. You could even hire a coach to talk to employees, diagnose issues, or collect anonymous feedback. Employees are often more comfortable opening up to a third party in a safe space. You may collect highly rich data this way.
Moreover, coaches are trained not just to identify problems but to come up with highly effective solutions. Their assessments are usually objective in nature and based on studies and reports.
5. Set the stage for a culture of feedback over the long run:
Thank those who speak plainly and sincerely. Even reward honest feedback with a raise or promotion. This sends out the message that you and your organisation genuinely value the principle of honesty and appreciate non-sugarcoated viewpoints.
Applying these ideas in the workplace is to build your company culture on a foundation of honesty and establish yourself as a boss people would love to work for!