Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of facilitating some focus groups for a client in Michigan. One of the participants stopped me after her focus group and simply said "Thank you for listening" before continuing on her way.
I could see in her eyes just how much she meant it.
Thank you for listening.
Not thank you for changing our culture.
Not thank you for improving our work environment.
Not thank you for understanding.
Simply, thank you for listening.
It reminded me just how powerful asking sincere, thoughtful questions – then really listening to the answers – can be.
Last week, I shared three crucial steps to painlessly receiving honest, actionable feedback from employees, instead of generic, sugar-coated responses. This week, I want to focus on a few tactical ways to gather this feedback.
When it comes to strengthening relationships, there is nothing more effective than making time for individual conversations with your team members. If you're already having regular 1:1s, now is the perfect time to reflect on the type of things you're covering during those meetings.
Are you focused only on project check-ins and deadlines?
Or are you asking questions that get to the root of their experience at work?
If only the former, I suggest checking out this list of questions every great boss asks their employee. Even asking these once a quarter would give you amazing insight into your team members and how they currently feel about their job and future with the company.
Sometimes it's easier for the truth to surface when a group of people are allowed to engage together on specific workplace topics and issues. When done well, a focus group can be the perfect opportunity for gathering feedback from a variety of team members quickly. That said, they are probably the trickiest feedback method to master and can easily go south if not facilitated properly.
To host a successful focus group it's crucial to create a safe environment, establish ground rules, and exclude anyone who may trigger silence from the group - often leadership and management. In fact, it's common and recommended that you hire an outside facilitator to conduct these groups, as it allows the group to speak freely knowing their feedback will be returned to the company anonymously and in broad themes.
Great facilitators will allow the group to share their thoughts, while also steering the conversation elsewhere if things become too negative and unproductive.
Employee Feedback Surveys
Many people glaze over when you mention employee surveys because their experience with them has been less than enjoyable. Historically, companies only distribute them once a year (or when they're in the running for a Best Place to Work award) and do so without any context or communication.
The responses, whether honest or sugar-coated, are often reviewed once by leadership and filed away to collect dust. Rarely do they trigger real change throughout an organization.
Luckily, times are changing! Collecting employee feedback via survey is easier than ever thanks to a variety of technology solutions. You can now collect meaningful feedback in smaller chunks throughout the year. These smaller pools of insight make it easier for you to digest and respond to, whether it's through conversations, policy change, or a shift in best practices.
As employees being to see their opinions matter to the company, they become even more engaged with the process - which is the ultimate goal!
Some of my favorite employee feedback platforms:
Some are complex and provide robust data, while others are quite simple to implement and take only a few minutes to set up. All of them are great ways to begin an incredibly important dialogue with employees company-wide.
When it comes to understanding your culture, step one is talking with your team. Whether you start with 1:1s, plan a focus group, or select an employee survey software, just being asked for their input will likely energize everyone involved.
To happier employees,
Looking for more info on employee feedback at your company?
Learn everything from the Want to Work There Podcast.