A real-world approach to getting the feedback you need from employees


See if this sounds familiar: During an annual review with one of your department employees, they tell you that everything is fine and they couldn’t be happier – yet a month or two later they resign. What happened? Guest poster Deb Dwyer, founder and president of HSD Metrics, offers some perspective.  




You may think that you give your employees every opportunity to share, but the results say otherwise. As much as employees might do their best to give you a forthright answer, you can also expect that they’re holding back – in order to protect themselves, keep their options open or out of fear or nervousness.


So how can you get honest answers?


Stick with these strategies for asking the toughest questions. Doing so will give you the best shot at improving engagement and reducing turnover.


Is this role living up to your expectations?


You want to get the answer to this question early on in the process. On the other hand, coming out of the gate with a question like this sets the wrong tone – even with a content new hire.


So what do you do? Check in regularly to see how your new employee is holding up. Are they getting the support they need? Are they spending more or less time on one task set than they expected? Are they dropping hints that they weren’t expecting to be doing the job you have them doing?


The lesson, really, is not to overpromise responsibilities and perks you can’t back up.


How would you do my/your manager’s job differently?


No employee with a functioning brain is going to directly answer this question. And yet, so many managers desperately need this feedback to get the most out of their employees – and themselves. Waiting to get this information until you’re conducting an exit interview isn’t any good either. By then, the root issue with a manager’s leadership style can be impossible to strip from the more emotional dis-satisfaction your ex-employee is feeling.


To get the honest answer you’re looking for, ask your employee how they would manage a particular project or situation. You can also introduce newer employees to controlled situations, like medium-sized projects, where they can flex their own management skills. This can do more than just help you avoid future management clashes – it can help you uncover the natural-born leaders in your organization.


Do you think your pay actually reflects your contribution?


It’s no surprise that only 53% of U.S. workers are actually satisfied with their paycheck. But did you know that 69% of employees admit that they would work harder in their current position if they received more recognition for their work? In most cases, people just want to be treated and compensated fairly for the time they put in.


Long before any evaluation, provide your employees with opportunities to record and quantify their accomplishments. Getting your talent to think about their work in this way promotes a motivation-fueled way of thinking. It’s empowering!


Employees who make the most of these opportunities will have ammunition for a raise or promotion, and it will give you quantifiable reasons to give it to them.


When people ask you what you do for a living, are you proud of your answer? Why or why not?


Engagement isn’t just a measurement of whether employees like their jobs. It’s about fulfillment, passion, and even a sense of pride. Is this an area outside of an HR executive’s control? Absolutely not.


Sometimes there’s simply no way for you to make a position fit the employee — that’s a hiring shortcoming, not an engagement shortcoming. But if you have a way to make an employee understand that your organization respects the value they add, you’ll get much better results from them as long as they’re employed.


With every new hire, take a half hour during their first quarter on the job to listen to their aspirations. They’re on the payroll now; what do they really see themselves doing in 10 years? The answer might surprise you.


Do you feel comfortable speaking up with your ideas?


New ideas, especially from new employees, ought to be the lifeblood of a healthy organization. But all too often those new ideas are muted by upper management, an uncomfortable environment or lack of an appropriate forum. What’s worse, employees who are less likely to speak their minds are less likely to state the reasons for their dissatisfaction.


Ask yourself: where do your organization’s ideas grow? And how can a company like yours give employees chances to innovate? Figure out how to establish a forum for your talent to shine and you can have a permanent effect on your company’s culture.


Do you think asking you these questions helps us improve?


The only safe answer to this question is “Yes…” and by far the most likely thought of a disengaged employee is an emphatic no. But studies show that even making an attempt to initiate a process is more than half the battle. Three-quarters of business leaders say they don’t even have an engagement strategy, even though 90% of them believe it has an immediate impact on business success.


If you’re thinking about your process, and the questions you need to be asking to pinpoint engagement roadblocks, you’ve already taken a step in the right direction. Employees, particularly those with prior work experience in your industry, can help you improve processes like employee reviews and evolve organizational culture. Ask them what they’ve seen work (and fail).


Change is hard. Collaboration makes things easier for everyone.


What are you doing to get at what’s really going on in the heads of your organization’s members? Share your tactics with us in the comments.


Deb Dwyer is the founder and president of HSD Metrics, a provider of organizational surveys designed to increase retention, engagement and organizational effectiveness. She has over 30 years of combined experience in human resource management and organizational research.


Source: HR Morning News