Fostering Feedback from Employees

Small and mid-sized business owners rely on the skills and service of their employees. A small organization with only a handful of employees is especially vulnerable to difficult communication and other issues if employees do not feel comfortable about providing genuine feedback that behooves the company. Happy employees are hard-working employees, and they will provide you and each other with all the necessary feedback and information required to improve your business practices and identify critical issues that will help you to grow your business and thrive.

The Eyes and Ears of Your Business

You may be a hands-on business owner, but you cannot be in all places all the time. Your employees are the eyes and ears of your business, and you should rely on them to provide you with the information that you need to know. This is especially true when it comes to other employees who are providing poor customer service or who are not getting the job done in an efficient manner; however, the employees who observe these issues may be very hesitant to speak up for fear of it impacting them in a negative way. When you don’t hear about these issues, it can cost you money, as customers who receive poor customer service may not return – choosing instead to do business with your competitors.

A New Company Culture

Creating a company culture where your employees are comfortable speaking up about the issues they observe will make your employees feel heard and empowered, and will give you the tools to address issues when they occur. It is a delicate balance, as you do not wish to create an environment where employees are backstabbing each other in an effort to gain your approval. Additionally, giving employees the authority to step in when they see a potential problem means you can expect your employees to resolve many customer service issues on their own; instead of sweeping issues under the rug or pretending not to see them, your employees will address them and inform you about the issues as well.

Empowered Employees

Empowering your employees is about creating the expectation that they willingly act on the behalf of your company. Building their interest in personal accountability can be as simple as constructing mathematical equations that demonstrate how a loss in profits affects employment and wages. A boost in company sales means more employment, better wages, and a less-stressful workplace for everyone. A focus on the positive aspects of a company that is performing well can demonstrate the importance of everyone’s positive participation.

Constructive Education

It’s important to demonstrate – regularly – that you care about your employees and their well-being. Asking them to trust you represents nothing more than words; your actions towards your employees will guide the willingness they have to discuss issues with you and act on behalf of your company. Additionally, don’t assume that a problem employee is uncaring – consider your own role in the employee’s failures such as inadequate training or unclear expectations. Speaking up about problems should be presented as an opportunity for constructive education that leads to skills improvement rather than criticism.

Helping Each Other

The employee culture you want to create should be one of helping. Employees should always take measures to prevent causing embarrassment to their coworkers; in most cases, speaking privately about issues is the best approach. Encouraging your employees to privately call each other aside when issues are observed is a good practice. A gentle approach of active listening should be encouraged, and facts should be stated rather than opinions or accusations. Learning from each other’s mistakes should be the goal. Balance may be difficult at first, but with your careful observation and guidance, employees will adjust to the new culture and start to thrive within it.

Hire a Professional for Training

Hiring a consultant who is skilled in conflict management, workplace communication or active listening practices may be a wonderful starting point. A professional with these skills can provide a workshop for your employees to offer a guided learning process. This will help them to clearly understand the best way to approach customer service issues with a gentle, encouraging demeanor that is designed to help and improve workplace skills rather than cause hurt to others. Respect is the key; and if your employees enjoy their jobs, feel safe in the work environment and respect each other, they will be successful in working through customer service mistakes and issues with the assistance of other employees.

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