I often hear leaders express frustration when they get negative feedback from their team. “Why am I just now hearing this?” they may ask. “I don’t understand where this is coming from,” they lament. They are often caught off-guard or confused about the feedback they are hearing because it is not in line with what they believe about the situation or it is the first time they are hearing the issues raised. It does not have to be this way. If you want to know what your team thinks, you have to make it a priority to give them opportunities and channels for sharing their points of view. Three surefire ways to hear what your team thinks are to:
- Create a safe space to offer critical feedback – Many organizations do that with employee engagement or employee opinion surveys. There are other tools that can hone in on specific factors for your team and your leadership, such as the Leadership Culture Survey™ and the Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™ assessment. For the most specific and robust feedback, consider hiring a consulting firm to conduct confidential interviews with your team.
- Commit to a regular practice of one-on-ones – Team meetings are important and necessary, and individual meetings with your team members are just as important and necessary. It is in those conversations that you get to know your team, hear their unique accomplishments and challenges, and get feedback that may not come up in larger settings.
- Get up from your desk and be present – Yes, you have an open door policy. And yes, you are usually not in your office because of your crazy meeting schedule. So, make it a habit of connecting with your team intentionally and informally. Walk the floor, fly out to remote locations, drop in on group huddles, coax people to the common area with company-provided food. And when you do those things, take the time to ask questions and listen.
Learning what your team thinks does not have to be an unsolved mystery. Do one or all of these three things and you will know what’s going on that they may not be telling you…yet.
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