How to Use Feedback to Boost Enterprise Performance

BY Kathy Crosett
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Google shot to fame and success with its innovative online search tool. For decades, the company attracted the best and brightest talent. It invested not just in new products but in initiatives that mattered to its employees and for the benefit of society. Despite its success, the company now has concerns about enterprise performance and is seeking feedback and input from employees. Should you be doing the same?

Does Feedback Matter for Enterprise Performance? 

Every successful company must change with the times. Enterprise performance especially matters when economists expect recessionary times and slowing business cycles. Google serves as an example of a company served by leaders who are paying attention. But moving the needle in a company with over 150,000 employees will be no small feat. Despite the challenges, CEO Sundar Pinchai recently solicited feedback. He signaled his interest in hearing from team members, based on the notes from an all-​hands meeting where he spoke frankly. While many things are going right, Pinchai asked employees to provide feedback on how to “remove speed bumps” and “eliminate waste and stay entrepreneurial.” Jeff Haden, Inc., reported that Pichai spoke of a “Simplicity Sprint.

Encouraging Employees to Give Feedback

It’s one thing to ask your team members to give you feedback. It’s another to gracefully accept their input and implement their suggestions. These days, employees want to be highly invested in their work. Younger employees in particular want to feel that they are making a difference. When employees feel engaged, they are doing their best and most innovative thinking. The high levels of engagement also increase their loyalty.

Historically, the focus on enterprise performance flowed from the top down. This entrenched behavior means the people who are closest to the work don’t have a chance to suggest improvements. Team members who work on product design and development or in marketing and sales have likely noticed areas where the business could be doing a better job. They are the employees most likely to see where efforts are being duplicated. They may know that a specific review process takes too long and doesn’t yield much benefit.

But these employees may not be suggesting changes to you, especially if you’re not the type of manager who seems open to feedback. To encourage open communication, check out the results of the psychometric assessments your employees have taken. Is there a good match between your management style and their work style? If not, review their assessment results for suggestions on how to communicate with each team member.

Our research shows that most sales professionals appreciate their managers and would follow them to a new company. But they also believe managers could improve specific weaknesses which would lead to better enterprise performance. The top areas for manager improvement cited by sales professionals in one of our recent surveys include motivating team members (35%), holding efficient meetings (35%) and getting back to them with responses to their questions (34%). Ouch. It’s never fun to receive less than stellar feedback.

Think about how you would respond to an employee who says, “I appreciate our team meetings but they sometimes run long. Would it be possible to have an agenda and stick to an ending time?” It’s easy to take offense at this kind of remark, especially if you enjoy the meetings and see them as an opportunity to build team spirit. Instead of reacting quickly, think about the employee’s intent and the end goal of optimized enterprise performance. Could there be a way to develop a meeting agenda, post an end time and still develop the type of team interaction you’re hoping for?

Valid input from employees can make a difference. Taking action based on their input demonstrates that you are listening. It also shows that you value feedback and consider yourself to be part of a team working together to improve outcomes. Employees will notice your attitude and the changes. They’ll be more forthcoming with future suggestions because of your reaction. And in the end, the enterprise performance will improve.

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