Sounds of Silence

December 3, 2009

This is a really great article. I think it points out two big problems experienced by many organizations. Specifically, that (1) most employees do not feel comfortable giving feedback, for fear of some reprisal, and (2) many managers either do not want or do not give the impression that they want to receive feedback from their employees. I always find the later of these problems to be ironic because, as a manager, if you never get feedback from your employees—the people you interact with everyday—then you are never going to improve. How can you ever know what you are doing wrong if you do not have someone willing to tell you where you are going astray? I think the first step here is for managers to accept the fact that they need to know what their employees think and to then take the step of actively asking for feedback. Mary Jo Asmus had a great blog post the other day on this very topic, which provides some good advice on how (and who) to ask for feedback. This post is definitely worth a read, as I think it provides advice that a lot of managers could stand to implement as part of their regular work routines.

As I noted in commenting on Mary Jo’s blog post, if you let your employees know that you want feedback and directly engage them in the feedback process, you open up the channels of communication between you and your employees. This lets the employee know (or at least it should, if done correctly) that they can speak freely and offer a frank assessment of your performance or input on a particular issue without worrying that what they say is going to negatively impact their employment situation. As managers, I think we have a responsibility to let our employees know that we want and value their input and to make sure that they feel comfortable providing it. Otherwise, we are only seeing the events that take place in our organizations through our own eyes and we miss out on otherwise valuable input that can be both helpful and important to the organization.

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