How to Gather Feedback in Your Company for Improved SustainabilityJune 25, 2019
This article is part of a series where we’re covering why sustainability in the workplace is so important and how you can be the leader for sustainability in your company. To learn more about what sustainability in the workplace means, you can read our first two series posts, which cover how to define your workplace and how to get organized with technology:
- How to Achieve Sustainability by Defining Your Workplace
- Becoming More Sustainable Through Technology & Organization
In this article, we’re discussing how to gather feedback about your company both internally and externally for your organization as a way to improve company morale and as a result, sustainability, too.
Eliciting honest employee opinions for your organization is important because the people who work for the company are the biggest part of sustainability. As a leader, you need to know whether your managers and employees feel they feel both supported and challenged in their work. Read on to get more information about feedback and communication about sustainability.
Why Feedback is Important for Sustainability
The last thing you want is to have talented and intelligent employees heading for the door to work for other companies. As the famous saying goes: People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses.
When it comes to sustainability in the workplace, you need to get feedback from inside your organization in order to fully understand the current state of the workplace. When you don’t adequately solicit feedback and this gets looked over, it can have serious consequences on the sustainability of the business. Getting open feedback is important not only for identifying and eliminating any unsustainable negative energy in the workplace but also for noticing and improving in areas that are going really well.
Some business leaders may feel fearful about getting feedback, especially those hesitant to receive negative feedback about themselves. However, when this happens, leaders also close the door to positive feedback as well. According to Gallup, units with leaders who received feedback on their strengths exhibited 8.9% greater profitability than leaders who received no feedback at all. The same study also found that receiving strengths feedback resulted in 14.9% lower turnover rates.
Ways to Garner Feedback
There are many methods and strategies for getting feedback from people within your company. Here are some recommendations:
Getting feedback isn’t done in just one single way; it doesn’t always have to be as formal as a survey, or bi-annual evaluation. Simply being curious and asking important questions not only shows your employees that you are interested in their input but also lets you “take the temperature” on workplace morale. Some useful questions can be:
- How are your projects progressing?
- How are you feeling about meeting your goals?
- What is preventing from being able to do your job effectively?
- Is there some way I can help support you better?
- Is there anything I could be doing differently?
These questions can be asked in a weekly one-on-one meeting, in passing to check-in with an employee, or a similar situation. Asking these questions both before and after a major project or presentation (and even during a big project) is also a good idea. Remember though that you may want to avoid is asking these questions to a specific employee in front of a group, as it could likely prevent them from giving open, honest feedback.
Pay Attention to Non-Verbal Communication
Non-verbal communication can be tough, especially for those who struggle with reading social cues. Non-verbal cues can be one of the most honest ways you receive feedback from people in the business. Here are a few things to look out for when getting non-verbal cues:
- Negative facial expressions like downcast eyes, averted gazes, and strained or confused looking faces.
- Positive facial expressions such as wide, interested eyes, smiles, or just a relaxed expression.
- Negative body language like tightly crossed legs, frequent movement, crossed arms, body turned away, hands clasped, or other fidgety/uncomfortable movement.
- Positive body language like head titled forward, body facing the direction of the presenter or speaker.
About 60% to 90% of communication happens nonverbally, so this is an important touchpoint in getting unofficial feedback for the workplace. However, be wary of making quick judgments. If you’re noticing negative nonverbal feedback from a person or group, try to first address the issue verbally in the proper, safe setting to get confirmation. You may even try sending out an anonymous survey.
Send a survey
Sometimes an employee feedback survey can be a great way of getting honest feedback about the state of the workplace—particularly if employees can remain anonymous. In a survey, you may try and ask questions and give employees a rating scale from 1 to 10 such as:
- How happy are you at work?
- Do you feel you have a clear career path here?
- Does the company have a mission/purpose that inspires you?
- Is your team/department aligned with one another?
- Is your team/department aligned with the whole of the company?
- Do you feel valued here?
- Do you receive recognition from your manager?
- Can you reach your full potential at this company?
- How comfortable do you feel giving feedback about your supervisor?
There are many questions you can ask, and also industry-specific questions that pertain specifically to your business.
Tips for Getting Feedback
As we mentioned before, getting feedback isn’t always a smooth or easy process, especially when the feedback is negative. Here are our most important tips for getting feedback:
Avoid getting defensive
When people hear negative feedback, especially about themselves, a natural reaction is to get defensive. If an employee is willing to share something that was disappointing or made them uncomfortable, it’s important to listen to their grievance and think about what could be done to improve the situation instead of countering with an excuse, even if you might have more knowledge of the inner workings as to why a work situation is a certain way.
When listening to negative feedback, if it becomes overwhelming, take a break to think about what was said before figuring out what the right response should be. Your employees will appreciate the thoughtfulness in how you handle the situation.
Accept your mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes — even leaders. Accepting that messing up or completely overlooking something is all par for the course—especially when your attention is so divided. Be ready to admit when you’ve made a mistake and own up to it, because your employees will respect you even more because of it.
Get personal feedback
It can be helpful to look for feedback outside of the company, in a business coach, a trusted advisor, or another mentor. Sometimes, that third perspective is just what you need to get more clarity on a situation or feedback about the workplace. Having people you trust as a leader is imperative for knowing how to move forward with feedback.
We hope this article has been helpful in educating you on how to get feedback in order to make your business more sustainable.
The right software may be just the key you need to helping align your company and improving feedback and communication about sustainability. Read more about our performance management and alignment software here and contact us today for a demo to see how it can improve your workplace.