Openness to Employee Feedback Can Make Your Business More Productive

Picture of Gina Blitstein Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.

Openness to Employee Feedback Can Make Your Business More Productive

As the boss, it’s your responsibility to establish the ways in which your business works - but where do your opinions pertaining to procedures, workflow, task delegation, and the like, come from? Is your determination as to what and when things should be done based on anything in particular? Even though these decisions are ultimately up to you, you are not the one who is actually doing the work. That’s why it’s prudent to check in with your employees on a regular basis to gather intel about the realities of performing their tasks. The feedback they can provide may very well shine a light on ways efficiency, productivity and profitability can be increased in your business.

You don’t want your business to become stagnant - stuck in a rut of doing things the same way because, “that’s the way we’ve always done them.” Long-term employees (as valuable as they are) often experience this phenomenon. They seem to be blinded to different (possibly new) ways of doing things. The fresh eyes of a new employee on a “tried and true task” can shake up a stale system and point out where some improvement could work wonders. So be open to hiring new employees who are willing to step up, question and suggest some new ways of doing things.

If you are concerned that asking employees for feedback is a sign of weakness, rest assured, it is not. Consider the fact that employees are the ones “in the trenches,” actually performing the work day in and day out. Who better to notice how a process could be streamlined, a procedure improved or a stumbling block removed? When employees step up and offer constructive criticism or recommend changes - they are not challenging your authority - they are demonstrating that they are invested in doing the best job possible. Avoid thinking that managers can always speak for those they supervise. Often they are as unaware of an individual employee’s experience as you. When you think of your workforce as a team, it will perform best when everyone feels that their opinions are both appreciated and respected.

“Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

- Andrew Carnegie

How can you establish an environment wherein employees will feel comfortable and free to offer their opinions and feedback with you or upper management? You’ll want to build the opportunities for communication right into your business’ agenda. Make checking in with employees as much a priority as a regular performance review. Some best practices include:

Establish a policy. Express your willingness to hear employee feedback from Day One. Let employees know that you value their opinions about the effectiveness of the job they do and that if they have ideas about how it can be improved, you want to hear it.

Of course, every idea may not be practical, doable or workable; but at the very least, be willing to listen. If the change is impractical or impossible, explain why, then thank her for her input. She will feel validated and will not be discouraged from bringing other issues to your attention in the future.

Put your money where your mouth is and make certain employees know exactly who to approach and how to broach the subject. Meet away from the workplace to discuss employee input. A basic level of comfort and a casual atmosphere will help an employee be more forthcoming about expressing an idea or opinion. It can be presented as a regularly scheduled outing or “check in.” Conversely, it could be an on-the spot option for when an idea arises or to brainstorm a solution to a problem that has arisen. Go for coffee and find out a little about her work history; knowing more about your employees and their experiences on the job will help you see even more the value their insights.

Dedicated employees think about what they are doing and why. They have a unique, firsthand knowledge of their job. When they have ideas to make things easier, faster more efficient, it’s important to listen to their feedback.

What great ideas do your employees have that you haven’t heard?

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