Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation
SVP & Chief Human Resources Officer,
Sodexo North America
How brave are you? Do you really know what your employees think of you? Are you willing to have a meaningful conversation and ask your employees what they really think? Do you care?
You should—an employee’s relationship with his or her manager is a leading driver of employee engagement. And engaged employees work harder, stay longer and perform better. According to Harvard Business Review “the best managers make a concerted effort to get to know their employees and help them feel comfortable talking about any subject, whether it is work related or not. A productive workplace is one in which people feel safe – safe enough to experiment, to challenge, to share information, and to support one another.”
Sure, it can be a bit intimidating—and it can be equally nerve-wracking for employees to provide constructive feedback to their bosses. However, understanding what your team thinks—and what will make them happy —is crucial to becoming a better manager. Good management is predicated on effective two-way communication and candid feedback helps you grow and improve as a person and as a leader.
Entrepreneur summarizes the benefits of asking your employees for feedback, and offers one popular option, commonly referred to as a 360-degree review. While in theory knowing what’s working and what isn’t is a good thing, the reality is asking for feedback can be difficult, especially from people you manage. It may not always be easy but by welcoming constructive, solution-minded input, you can position yourself as an approachable leader committed to the growth of the company and its employees. There is always room for improvement and strong, insightful leaders will make the most of the opportunity to listen (and actually hear) constructive criticism. In addition to letting your employees know that you genuinely take their input seriously, you can demonstrate your commitment to personal and organizational growth. The end result is more personal insight and a happier, more cohesive team. You will also find that the process surfaces some useful ideas that can improve both productivity and quality of life for employees.
Ultimately, the purpose of 360-degree review is to promote personal and organizational growth and development. When executed correctly, 360-degree reviews can help both employees and leadership to better understand how one’s role impacts the mission and goals of the organization. When receiving feedback from multiple people and perspectives all at once, individuals can better understand how their work and behavior influences the other people. From peers and coworkers to reporting staff and supervisors, multilateral feedback is often considered more accurate and more credible then traditional structured performance reviews.
Human Resource expert Susan M. Healthfield consulted Indeed.com when researching what questions should be included in a 360 review. She points out that without a clearly defined format with specific questions, employees’ free form answers may provide a lot of interesting information, but not data that will help the leader grow. Questions should cover interpersonal skills, motivation, efficiency and problem-solving abilities. Framing the questions effectively helps your employees understand what you want to know and helps you act on the feedback you receive. For example a good question might be structured like this – Does this employee exhibit leadership qualities in the roles he or she plays in the company? If so, can you provide examples of how he or she positively contributes through his/her leadership? If not, how can the employee improve his/her leadership?
When it comes to asking for and receiving feedback from employees there is no universally accepted method. Instead, leadership must examine the specific culture and climate of the organization in order to appropriately determine which methods would be most effective. The way in which an organization introduces, monitors, and evaluates the effectiveness of the 360-degree review process is vital to its ultimate success or failure.
By encouraging the multidirectional flow of information and communication within the workplace, employers, managers and employees can work together to develop a more cohesive team and productive work environment. Increasing feedback effectiveness directly influences business results, which is why improved communication between a manager and employee drives higher levels of employee performance, development, and engagement.
Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Or in this case the courage to know, to understand and to act. Are you brave enough to become a better leader?