How to get great feedback from your team

If you want to build something great, you need to be able to rely on your team’s feedback. Whether you are creating the next big app, or you want to bring a better work environment, you need to know what is doing great and what is not.

However, people are often reluctant to tell you honestly what they are thinking. We are already afraid of getting negative criticism. It takes lots of time and effort to learn how to deal with it, and grow from it.

If you ask someone under you in the hierarchy of your company, they are going to be reluctant to give you an honest answer. “What if they get angry at me? What if they start being more critical, refusing future raises?”

Side note: Take a minute to think about how you dealt with criticism in the past, if it has angered you, made you nervous, or made you harsher towards employees. If this is the case, the Harvard Business Review published an excellent article on the fear of feedback. This is a very interesting, and in-depth article on the subject.

To encourage people to say what they think, you can start by explaining why you are seeking their feedback. This is not about you, or them: this is about making things better, about helping them getting engaged in what you are doing.

If an employee thinks that what you are doing is wrong, how can they be motivated? How can they be great at their job if they do not agree with its purpose?

They need to understand why giving you feedback is important: because it helps you see problems that you did not think about, and because it lets you tell them why you think your way is the best way. It can take quite some times, especially at first, but it will pay off in the long run when people feel motivated and heard in their work.

Face-to-face or phone feedback is not always convenient. Getting your employees to open up to you takes time, and you can sometimes feel more like a psychologist than anything else. People will tell you about their fears, their thoughts, their previous experiences, etc.

While this is the best form of feedback possible, this can get tiring and in the way of your other duties if it becomes too common. We recommend to do these kinds of feedback once or twice per month, letting everyone reveal their feelings, and just being there to listen to them.

On the other hand, you want them to tell you when something is wrong spontaneously, but you do not always have the time to sit down with them. This is when tools allowing them to drop feedback or suggestions at any time shine. Your team can then just send a message and worry less about it.

You can then dedicate a bit of time every week, or day to look at all these problems. You can use emails for these notes, but we advise you to separate them from your day-to-day email to not let these interrupt you in the middle of something. It is normal to get worried if a member of your team has a problem, this is why you should set a special moment for that. A time when you can focus on them and nothing else.

If you are overseeing a large number of people, or if you want feedback about something in particular, it would be very time consuming to ask them all one by one.

This is where tools like surveys work the best. It brings structure and prevents people from swaying away into other subjects. For example, if you plan to implement a new HR policy, you could quickly ask everyone about their opinion. Maybe someone will come with a better idea or will show you ways this could go wrong.

However, not many companies have a culture of surveys. The first few ones might get ignored, and that would require — as you would have probably guessed by now — discussions and feedback to help them adopt this new method of improving your company.

If you need help getting feedback or setting up new tools to get honest answers from your employees, do not hesitate to message us. We provide anonymous face-to-face interviews and help your team adopt new tools.