How to Effectively Use Negative Employee Feedback to Grow Your Company

No one enjoys hearing negative feedback. After all, your company is your baby, and you’re working hard to fulfill your mission and vision. But your employees are your eyes and ears on the ground. Their feedback is highly valuable because it gives you the opportunity to make transformative changes that will take your organization to the next level. Not listening to employee feedback is something you should not do as a manager.

Here’s how to effectively use negative feedback from your employees.

Slow Down and Think

It’s human nature to react badly to criticism. But an initial negative reaction could scare your team members off, making them less likely to share honest feedback in the future. Take a deep breath, thank the person for their thoughts, and then spend some time in reflection. It could take days or even weeks to decide whether to act on the feedback, and even longer to develop a plan of action. And that’s okay.

The first step is simply to sit with the information. Consider the source – are you receiving this feedback from a hardened company veteran, during an exit interview with a recently resigned employee,  or a newbie millennial. If you’re feeling upset, remind yourself of all the parts of your identity that have nothing to do with the feedback you’ve just received. This is only one small bump in the road.

Gather Information

One person’s opinion is merely that, and everyone has their own biases and motivations that could affect how they perceive you or your company. So it only makes sense to gather information from additional sources. Every leader needs a small circle of advisors who can be trusted to tell the truth. Take the feedback to your circle for additional opinions and clarification.

Don’t Disengage

Taking time to reflect on feedback before acting on it is not the same thing as isolating yourself. Resist the urge to pull back or avoid the person who gave you the negative feedback. Instead, take this opportunity to work on your relationships and make the workplace more enjoyable. Giving feedback can be scary, and your team members need to know that you won’t retaliate or make the working relationship feel uncomfortable.

Consider All Your Options

Sometimes the best course of action is to change nothing. But that’s not the same as doing nothing. Whether you decide to make a sweeping change or a lesser tweak, or to leave the status quo in place, your team members deserve to know the truth. They also deserve a well-considered plan for how to work around the issue.

For example, maybe the only way to truly fix the problem would be to hire more full-time staff members, but there simply isn’t enough budget. The workaround might be to bring in temp workers or to divide the extra duties more fairly between team members. Always offer a solution, even if it isn’t necessarily the one your employees were hoping for.  Your employees will appreciate the effort, it will probably improve morale, and most likely reduce chronic absenteeism.

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