Gaining Input

Most management gurus discuss the importance of soliciting feedback from employees.  Employees provide an available and vocal resource for identifying organizational strengths and weaknesses, areas for potential innovation or improvement, and the state of morale.  Although each of these contributions holds considerable value, most managers hesitate to ask for employee opinions.

How strong is the hesitation? An examination of 125 recent organizational climate surveys by HCS found that employee feedback typically falls into the top three employee concerns.  Not surprising, the level of satisfaction with opportunities for feedback averages only approximately 20 percent.  Exploration of the rating reveals that unsatisfied employees felt that:

  • managers fail to have any interest in their opinions;
  • managers solicit feedback only due to some requirement; and
  • managers do little with the feedback provided.

What is the root of the dissatisfaction? In each case, it is the action or inaction of the manager.  There are three primary reasons that a manager typically dismisses employee input and undervalue feedback include:

Know More than Me

Less confident and many times less experienced managers fear that employees may know more than they do and expose their weaknesses.  In other words, a leader fears that others will discover he or she remains human and does not have all the answers.  As leaders, we need to reassure managers that they will make mistakes and remind them that they need to surround themselves with people that know more than they do.

I Know It All

Another common group includes managers that refuse to take the advice of others.  Their opinion of themselves prevents them from considering that anyone else can provide anything of value.  The climb to reach a management position persuades the manager that he or she must possessed extraordinary abilities or powers that set them apart from others.  Although this perception might have assisted with the climb, it offers little value once reaching the summit.

It Does Not Matter

Finally, some managers solicit input and feedback with no intention of using it.  They play along with the feedback game, but benefit little from it.  While interviewing managers in different organizations, a fair percentage have indicated they are good at asking for input, but only accept it if it matches their own intentions.  Like most human interaction, it is easy to be interested in what other people think until we find out it does not agree with our point of view.

Feedback from employees makes a key part of the health of any organization.  We need to take those ideas seriously.

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