The Power of Filtering Feedback in Integrating Lean into an Organization
One of the most powerful assets a leader has at their disposal when running the organization is the feedback of their employees. Anyone dedicated enough to the working process should regularly have something to say about the situation, and this input is a critical resource that has to be used effectively.
However, a common problem that can arise is the improper analysis of the opinions coming in from those employees. In other words, not everything workers have to say about the current state of the organization will be valid, as they don’t always have the full picture relevant to the comments they’re making. The leader can take the opportunity to explain the full picture, which highlights a possible communication gap in their messaging to their employees.
On the other hand, sometimes a leader will also inevitably get duplicate feedback, as a certain idea might develop in different parts of the company independently. All in all, knowing how to filter all of this information, and how to tell the useful parts from the ones that can be discarded, is a skill that every good leader must possess.
Don’t jump into long discussions about everything that comes up
Silence is a common trait of good leaders. While communication with employees is obviously important, and a leader who’s perpetually quiet about their intentions can be a little off-putting, it’s not a very wise idea to discuss everything that gets brought up by employees in deep detail. This is a sure-fire recipe for wasting a lot of time, and you’ll also end up getting lost in a sea of opinions and ideas.
This doesn’t mean that you should ignore those attempts from your employees to communicate with you. The important thing is that you should take their feedback in, but only acknowledge it when there is something substantial worth discussing.
Leaders should also talk about non-business topics with employees, not just what’s going well or poorly. Showing interest in what the employee does outside of work will create an environment where they will be willing to talk openly and honestly in the future.
Set aside some time for improvement discussions
In any well-developed company, there will be some structure to the way employees give their feedback. The most common approach to this is to set aside some specific time for going through everyone’s opinions and issues, and ensuring that this time is enough for all employees to give at least a little feedback.
How frequent those meetings will be depends on the structure and size of your organization. Some companies can get away with doing them once a week or even month. In some cases, you’ll need to take on a more active approach, occasionally even with regular daily meetings when there are particularly serious issues that are to be discussed.
Skip-level meetings are becoming more popular, where a leader meets with the employees of one of their reports, essentially bypassing that manager. This lets the manager find out if they employee feedback is making it’s way up to them, or being blocked or filtered.
Regardless of the exact frequency or format you’ve chosen, the important thing is that you actually stick to your plan. Having to postpone or cancel meetings for whatever reasons can quickly kill the motivation of your employees to participate, and they might become less and less active in sharing their feedback.
Involve everyone in the feedback rating process
An interesting approach to the problem that can work especially well in larger organizations, is to have some system in place where employees can rate each other’s feedback, and promote ideas that they agree with. If employees like an idea, they can upvote it to increase the chance that it is implemented, or if they are opposed to the idea, they can down-vote it, so it has a less likely chance of being implemented.
This is often implemented through something like a messaging board, and it can have multiple positive effects on the communication within the organization. For example, duplicate opinions are no longer a problem – in fact, they’re something you want to see, because the more people indicate that they agree with something, the more you should be paying attention to this issue as a leader.
It also helps to make everyone feel like their voice is heard and matters, which is ultimately what every good organization should be striving for. Even if someone’s opinion falls through and doesn’t get the traction they thought it would, at least that’s because a larger portion of the organization disagreed with the opinion, and not being blocked or ignored by a specific person.
Learning how to tell the good ideas from the bad ones is a critical skill for any organization leader, regardless of the scale of the company or other similar factors. The sooner you become an expert at sifting through the volumes of opinions you’re guaranteed to receive on a regular basis, the faster you’ll be able to see actual results in the productivity of the organization.
It will also help the company immensely in the long run by allowing it to invest time and efforts into ideas that all employees want to see realized. This has a compounding effect – it boosts the productivity of the company, while also raising employee morale, which ultimately has the same effect.
What is the employee feedback system at your company? Tell us about it below in the comments…