I love today’s reader question. When we regularly work in an office, it can be easier for managers to get feedback from employees. We simply walk up and ask someone. Managers might find it more challenging to get feedback when employees are working remotely.
Hi Sharlyn. I love your website. Thank you for all that you do. I have a team of three that will double in January. Everyone is working from home (per the corporate office) at least through first quarter and it may last longer.
I’d like to host one-on-one meetings with my team and get some feedback on how they’re handling working from home (i.e. How are you feeling given working from home, COVID-19, 2020 in general, etc.) But I would also like to get their feedback on how I can help them (i.e. What more do you need from me)?
Do you have ideas or opinions on how to serve this up to my team members? And what questions to ask them? The idea here is continuous improvement for me as a manager and to work on my blind spots. Thank you!
I once worked with a CEO who asked his team to give him a performance review every year. He said that he couldn’t get better and the company couldn’t get better without feedback. That’s the reason I like this reader note so much. Managers need feedback not only from their boss but their employees. If you’re a manager and want to get some feedback from your team, here are a few things to consider.
This cannot be a one-time activity. If the intent is really continuous improvement, then this needs to be a continuous activity. That being said, regular activities have to start somewhere so this is it. 2021 could be a perfect time to begin a continuous feedback activity.
Tell employees in advance. In addition to making continuous feedback a regular activity, let employees know prior to the one-on-one meeting that you’ll be asking for some feedback about how they’re doing working from home and how you can help them. That way they have time to think about what they want to share. Over time, employees will get more comfortable, but the first few times give them adequate notice.
Be prepared to do something. I’ve said it before, one of the worst things that organizations can do is ask employees for feedback and then do nothing with the information. If you’re going to ask employees for feedback – which is great – then be prepared to act on the information. This could mean stretching outside of your comfort zone.
Consider more structured questions at first. If you’re concerned about not being able to deliver on the feedback that you receive, think about structuring the questions in a way that does allow you to deliver. I’m not saying this to be deceptive. But if you ask employees to tell you what they need and someone says a new ergonomic work chairbut you’re not able to buy it…well, that’s disappointing. Maybe start with “What’s one thing the company can do – that costs under $XX?”
Ask employees for feedback – about giving feedback. After conducting all of the one-on-ones, find a time to ask employees what they thought of giving feedback. See if they have any suggestions about how to incorporate it into regular one-on-one meetings.
Employee feedback is a great thing. With employees continue to work remotely, managers might want to consider a more formal approach to getting feedback. Let employees know that no matter where they are, their feedback is valued.
Image capture by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring Austin, TX before it was frozen over (stay safe Texas friends!)11