Tips to Fix Your Broken Employee Feedback Loop

BY Kathy Crosett
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You spend a lot of time thinking about how well your employees are doing and how they could improve. You’ll share your praise and suggestions during one or two formal meetings a year, and hopefully everything will work out. If that’s your idea of how your company’s appraisal process should work, it’s time for a wake-​up call!

The best companies these days make the employee appraisal process a two-​way street. In a recent Smartbrief​.com column, Kelsey Martin explains how her company uses employee feedback to improve operations. You can easily implement these changes at your company, too.

One of the best ways to figure out what’s happening in your company is to informally ask for feedback. If you’re struggling with a big problem, especially one that’s related to internal operations, gather the troops around the conference room table, provide refreshments – adult beverages might help – and ask for ideas and solutions. This kind of outreach shows your human and vulnerable side and may encourage people who are usually afraid to speak up to offer their opinions.

If your group is too large to handle in this way, wander through the cubicles or open floor space and start a discussion with one or two people. The conversation may attract others and soon you’ll have people coming up with suggestions. The point is to be casual about these talks. People will speak more freely than they will in a formal meeting with a formal agenda where they imagine their every word and facial expression is being monitored.

The concept of a 360 performance review can also open up your system to better employee feedback. If you and your team members are accustomed to only having feedback pass between a supervisor and a direct report, you’re working with a very closed system. To improve communications and work relationships between various departments, consider adding another person to the process. When an employee also nominates a person on another team to provide feedback, he has the opportunity to view himself through a different lens.

Establishing new systems is only the first step in improving your employee feedback system. You need to set up a way to capture information that employees offer, whether it’s about an operational issue or an appraisal of a co-​worker. Share this data with the right team members. Praise them when it’s appropriate and create a plan to change work behavior when it’s necessary. Optimizing your employee feedback loop is a crucial part of improving operational efficiency, and ultimately, revenue growth.