Have you ever heard of the CBS reality series “Undercover Boss”? Each episode features a business owner or CEO who disguises themselves as an entry-level employee at their own company. Why? To see what life is like for the team and get honest feedback on the state of the company’s culture.
As clever as it is (you have to admit it makes for great television), most business owners can’t go undercover. They’re simply too familiar a face for it to actually work. Unless you’re a CEO with a team so big they couldn’t pick you out of a lineup, you need another way.
Here at Newsletter Pro, we engage in real communication at all levels. Each team member has an open invitation to meet with a manager at any time! They can discuss issues they might be having or deliver feedback — good or bad. We routinely celebrate wins and hash out challenges in meetings. We also provide team members with a private one-on-one discussion with their direct manager or team lead once every month. This allows them to bring any lingering concerns to the table regularly.
To receive quantifiable information, it’s important to take communication even a step further. Here are some easy things you can do once or twice a year to gauge the “temperature” of the team. You’ll find out what you can do better, too.
Conducting a survey might seem obvious, but they are a surefire way to get your team to open up. They’ll share how things are going and what they really think about the company, their work, the culture, and your management style. However, a survey often works best if it is anonymous and confidential. Creating an environment where your team feels safe to say what’s on their minds is crucial. It’s the only way to receive completely honest, constructive feedback.
A team satisfaction survey will be most successful when it’s delivered online through email. Zoho.com has a great survey option that is user-friendly and free. Create a list of yes or no questions or ratings using a numbered scale. Once you’ve come up with your questions, let your team know the answers are confidential and anonymous. You’ll soon receive some great results.
Reviews And Evaluations
Reviews are another medium for acquiring feedback, provided you don’t view them as a one-way street. When your team has their quarterly reviews, for example, why not go under review as well? Team members who work closest with you are in a position to give you a useful evaluation, but only if you show them they’re safe to do so. This means you’ll have to remind yourself not to get defensive. Evaluations are only effective if you allow your team to speak honestly, without fear of retaliation. Some feedback might be hard to hear, but don’t ever challenge it in the review setting. You are not on trial. It will be better for everyone in the company, in the long run, if all parties involved can take an evaluation. Then you digest it and turn it into positive change.
Don’t go through with any of these steps if you don’t plan on using the data you receive. The most important step in receiving feedback or criticism from your team is to address it. Publish and talk about the results of the survey (keeping all answers anonymous). Then ask for ideas from the team on how to improve areas that are lacking. Let’s say the results show that a majority of your team feels a need for more concrete goals. Then come up with a plan on how you’ll break down the company’s mission to make it more visible and tangible for everyone. To the best of your ability, use this valuable information. Your team will thank you for giving a damn, and you’ll be more likely to keep them around.