May 3, 2021
As the owner and proprietor of a growing business, you must have your thumb on the pulse when it comes to your team. Understanding what you’re doing well and not so well as an employer can help you grow as a leader, which benefits your business immensely. Knowing how to elicit honest, constructive feedback from your employees will ensure their happiness and empower you to continue to do better.
Establish an opendoor policy
You’ve probably heard the phrase opendoor policy, and it means very much what it sounds like it would. Susan M. Heathfield, a member of the Society for Human Resource Management, writes for The Balance Careers that the goal of such a policy is for employees to feel confident in approaching you or members of management.
When you establish an opendoor policy in the workplace, you open yourself up to fielding all questions and concerns. Heathfield recommends outlining this policy in the employee handbook so that your team has it in writing. If your employees feel safe coming to you with their issues and feedback, you’re far more likely to get genuine, unfiltered thoughts that can help improve the way things run.
A popular way to gather feedback from your employees is with the anonymous survey or the oldfashioned suggestion box. But taking the feedback process public and making an open forum can be a great way to establish a rapport and create a sense of unity within your team.
Kim Scott, author of the bestselling book “Radical Candor,” writes that public criticism can be as effective as criticism received privately. By showing a willingness to receive and accept criticism in public, you demonstrate a leadership quality that makes your team feel more comfortable about being honest with you.
Pointing the criticism at yourself publicly and channeling it productively will help create an environment of transparency and honesty. This can prove beneficial in terms of creating fruitful dialogues between employees, empowering them to work out issues and solve problems more effectively.
Lead by accepting criticism the right way
Establishing a culture where employee criticism is welcomed starts with welcoming the criticism. It can be hard to hear when you’re not living up to expectations, but Scott writes that embracing discomfort is key to getting good feedback.
That begins by making sure that your approach is to listen fully so that you understand the issues presented. If you feel tempted to respond to criticism because you think it’s unfair or unwarranted, stay your hand. Let your employees provide their complete and uninterrupted perspective and make it clear that they have your undivided attention.
When they’re finished talking, Scott recommends demonstrating your understanding by paraphrasing the feedback back to them. This also ensures that you’re not misunderstanding something they said. Whatever the criticism may be, you should thank them for it. It takes courage to speak up in the workplace no matter how good your rapport is with your employees. Making it known that you appreciate their candor will reward you with an open line of communication moving forward.
Your business needs feedback from your employees to thrive and succeed. By being willing to maintain a dialogue with the people who make your business run and take their opinions and feelings into consideration, you’ll be in a better position to develop a winning team that succeeds on the same page.