3 Techniques for Getting Employee Feedback

Ever sit down to watch your favorite TV show and the next thing you know it’s over and you missed half of it because you picked up your phone for a ‘minute’? Who hasn’t, right? Technology is addictive, but that’s not a bad thing. It actually works in your favor when it comes to collecting employee feedback.

We all know feedback is good for managers, great for employees and teams, and critical for companies that want to improve processes, become more innovative, and go farther. Whether you keep missing the guy down the hall, or you’re trying to connect with remote workers or the company’s top road warrior, you can catch all of your ‘hard-to-gets’ quickly and easily using their favorite distraction — technology. Below, we’ve outlined three tech tools that will help you connect with employees, and get the employee feedback you need faster than you can say, “rewind, I missed it.”

Score one-on-one time via video conferencing

One of the best investments any leader can make in pursuing actionable feedback is to schedule weekly one-on-ones with employees. There’s a certain magic that happens when people meet face-to-face. And when you can’t do it in person, video conferencing is the answer. It helps to build relationships, foster understanding, and create a real connection that allows people to share more openly than they typically do in groups. A good one-on-one can be as short as 10 minutes or longer if a major project is underway, or if a particular employee is introverted and requires more time to open up.

To ensure your one-on-ones are a win-win for both parties involved, an easy-to-use video-conferencing system that’s compatible with all devices is a must. Ideally, you want a solution, like Highfive, that sets up in minutes, requires no training, makes screen sharing quick and painless, and is as effective in a conference room or pod, as its app is on an employee’s device. One of the key benefits of video one-on-ones is that it empowers you to read body language and get the whole picture of what an employee is saying, which is essential to gathering usable feedback.

A few other tips that will help you foster the camaraderie essential to a mutually rewarding relationship, where employees feel confident in giving honest feedback include:

  • Ask non-work questions: In the quest for efficiency, it can be tempting to get down to business immediately, but healthy relationships require time. Make a point of beginning conversations by asking employees about their life and personal interests.
  • Listen up: When you do get down to business, resist the urge to fill silences after asking questions. Take the edge off by telling people to take a moment and answer when they’re ready.
  • Recap: Before disconnecting, talk about next steps, what actions you plan to take and what actions the employee will take.

Survey says: Use an app

Depending on the culture and dynamic at your office, soliciting feedback can be an exercise in stress. Luckily, there are a plethora of employee survey and polling apps that can help eliminate that stress by bringing democracy, and if necessary, anonymity to the process. Apps like Officevibe, Niko Niko and SpeakUp bring employee polling and surveys into the modern era by making them an interactive endeavor in which both leaders and employees can post ideas for consideration or problems that need solving and receive feedback from coworkers in the form of votes, input and answers.

Convenient and engaging, these polls and surveys can be issued as desired, and employees can respond quickly and easily via the device of their choice, which is part of the reason many of these apps boast such high response rates. In addition, most of these apps instantly organize feedback into reports that visualize the data obtained so you can see where issues are, how they are impacting performance, and develop relevant plans of action that resonate with employees and build morale. A few things you should strive for when using these apps:

  • Don’t reinvent the wheel: Many of these apps provide you with questions developed by scientists and organizational psychologists that are proven to help employees give actionable feedback, so use their expertise to your advantage.
  • Short stuff: Keep your surveys and poll questions short and sweet, as in no more than a few minutes to read, understand, and answer.
  • Be transparent: The quickest way to make employees feel like they aren’t being heard is to keep results under lock and key. If a poll or survey report shows you’ve got a negative trend going, share those results with employees and use it as an opportunity to get employees involved in brainstorming solutions.   

Gather the team on your messaging platform

In today’s flexible work environment, messaging platforms have become the new water cooler, hosting an endless array of conversations on various subjects. While most offices use messaging platforms, like Slack, Asana and Trello for project organization and management, they can also be used to gather quick and informal feedback from both teams and individuals. The great thing about using your messaging platform to solicit feedback is that you can create a channel specifically for general feedback and allow people in your company to submit ideas at their convenience. You can also create private channels for conversations with individuals, or create a channel for a specific team to give feedback on a particular project.

In order to get the feedback ball rolling, start by asking the person or team you are messaging a provocative question, such as, “Now that Project X is over, what is one thing you wish we would have done different?” Questions like this help employees go beyond yes or no answers and think in terms of action, which is critical to implementing positive changes. Other tips for using messaging platforms to gather employee feedback include:

  • Be a moderator: Make it a priority to monitor and respond to posts in feedback channels on a regular basis. Then, if the discussion gets derailed, you can guide it back to the topic at hand, and keep folks from wasting time and energy wandering down rabbit trails.  
  • Lay ground rules: Because of the quick convenience of messaging, people may inadvertently be less sensitive in criticizing the ideas of others. Remind them to play nice before you solicit feedback. For example, ask a directed question such as, “Name two positive actions we can take to make this project more successful.”  
  • Table it: If an employee’s submission is generating a lot of input from coworkers, then it’s a good idea to schedule a meeting or video conference to engage in deeper discussion about the viability of the idea presented, as well as next steps.

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3

Now that you’re armed with ideas on how you can use tech to do your employee feedback bidding, don’t be shy about taking each solution for a test-drive. Just remember to ask your employees for feedback about the solution you tried when each test-drive is over. You may discover they love voting on anonymous ideas; or that they feel more valued when you make time to meet with them one-on-one via Highfive; or that they prefer a combination of approaches. If you’re ready to take that first test-drive now, feel free to schedule a one-on-one with one of our reps. We love getting feedback on our video conferencing solution, and can’t wait to hear yours.

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By Sara Moseley