Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.
As the ones who are deeply involved in the day-to-day running of a business, employees often have the best insights about what does and doesn’t work in a company. When you’re a leader, figuring out what employees think about how operations could be improved can be a vital part of ensuring your business’s success.
Ingraining employee feedback as part of your company’s culture, therefore, can ensure you hear your team’s opinions on a regular basis. To help you accomplish that, a panel of Rolling Stone Culture Council members offer their own opinions on how you can make feedback a part of your company culture and make sure everyone is heard.
Have an Open Dialogue With Employees
Leaders should always have open dialogue with their employees. While you’re “the boss,” the environment should feel like people are on an equal playing field. Be sure to ask your employees how they feel about certain aspects of your business and how it currently works. Everyone has different insights given their age bracket, conversations they have with others and their experiences. – Heather Besignano, ICON PR
Hold Regular Meetings
Our team is just that — a team. We hold regular meetings with both management staff and general staff to encourage, train, reward and give and receive feedback from all members of the team. We have cultivated a culture of personal investment because we want our team to feel connected to their jobs and their co-workers. This increases productivity and long-term retention. – Sheila Dedenbach, Heavenly Sweet
Regardless of the size of your company, your employees will be in various trenches you may not see or experience. Their insights are very key. Encouraging feedback and suggestions as part of the company culture allows employees to not only feel more engaged, but also to feel a part of the evolution and growth of the company. – Shirin Etessam, OML
Plan a Company Outing
Company outings are great ways to get insights from employees in a relaxing and non-threatening atmosphere. They will see that you care about them and show your appreciation, all while listening to what they have to say. – Matt Campbell, My Wedding Songs
Host a Quarterly ‘Creative Friday’
Creative Friday is a “non-meeting” meeting held quarterly. The team gathers to share thoughts and ideas. We have food, drinks and a “talking stick” so everyone is heard. There is no criticism given because there are no bad ideas. The purpose is to allow a flow of sharing in a fun and respectful environment. The outcome is for me to continue to grow as a leader and support the team. – Brooksie Hughes, BAH Productions Inc.
Have HR Conduct Individual Check-Ins
When you’re a leader, keeping the lines of communication open by having HR or someone on staff check in with employees at least twice a year, individually, and simply ask what’s working and what’s not, is a very easy way for staff to feel heard and a great way to garner feedback on how to improve the organization. – Nicole Rodrigues, NRPR Group
Give Employees Access to a Feedback Log
Our employees have daily access to a “What Makes My Day Difficult” log. They can provide feedback on which activities are inefficient, clunky, distracting or low utility (e.g. too many meetings). If we start to see trends in the WMMDD log, that’s when we begin to optimize or eliminate existing processes. – Jimmy DeCicco, Super Coffee
Be Open to Hearing Team Opinions
As a small startup, we believe every employee has valuable feedback to share. Each department may only have a few team members, so we are always open to hearing how processes and workflows can be improved for maximum productivity and efficiency. Especially in the early days as a startup with limited resources, working smarter not harder is key. – Vanessa Gabriel, Drop Delivery
Implement Employees’ Suggestions
Making changes small and large based on employee feedback is probably the most important part, and would naturally encourage feedback and open communication. Sharing constructive criticism is essential, but if nothing ever changes, people will be discouraged from doing so. Feedback with no resulting action can create a very negative situation. Create the outlet and then implement the change. – Jessica Passman, Hunter + Esquire
Incorporate Project Management Apps
Implementing project management apps can make sharing insight and feedback simple for employees. In my company, we use the Trello app because ideas and projects are always synced up among our team. Unlike conference calls that may be difficult to organize or group messages that may get lost, using an app can make important ideas accessible and prevent things from getting lost in translation. – Irma Miriam Penunuri, Burgerrock Media
Put Everyone on a Level Playing Field
We like training employees to learn everything. Cross training has shown us as owners that the “weakest link” theory is almost non-existent in the workplace when everyone is “equal” in experience, training and ability. In this environment, everyone’s opinions matter and have validity and value. It also allows for everyone to fairly listen to all, without reservation or judgement. – Chris Martin, Hempful Farms
Conduct Post-Project Reviews
Whether you’re working on one project or 10, the value of a post-project review and/or project milestone reviews cannot be overstated. Meaningful learning comes from recognizing what hasn’t been or what isn’t currently working. By operationalizing this type of review into your team’s workflow, you are creating a culture of open dialogue, and the willingness for team members to share becomes second nature. – Chris Murray, FoxNRTH Inc.
For an employee, it is usually pretty stressful to be forthcoming. Create a culture that rewards curiosity. Curiosity takes the edge off and creates an environment of trust for questions, thoughts and ideas. It empowers all levels to be honest and engaged, and the organization as a whole will benefit from the shared knowledge and experience. – Michael Klein, Miraculo Inc.
Provide Space During One-on-One Meetings
Schedule one-on-one check-ins weekly with team members and leave space for them to provide feedback. Allowing that space will encourage and empower them to be their true and authentic selves, knowing that their feedback is sought after and valued. Direct reports can implement change systems that will provide evidence that their team members’ input has been taken into consideration. – Marla Matime, Voice Media Ventures
Keeping checked in with staff as you scale becomes harder and harder to do. Offering spaces of anonymity for feedback, even a suggestion box, can create a low-stakes stream of feedback from the front lines of your team. This could be an anonymous web form or even a white board for ideas. Removing the perceived execution risk of having an idea has been vital to company culture. – Michael Thomas, Kindercore Vinyl