If your company has been through a growth phase, or has hit a plateau, it is then that you will benefit greatly from talking to your team in a structured way, specifically to get their feedback on what’s working, what isn’t working and where the gaps are in terms of resources or processes.
Here are 7 steps for doing this:
- Draw up a set of questions, so you can ask everyone the same thing and compare their answers. You will want to ask a series of questions to get feedback on different aspects of the business.
- Test your questions first. You need to make sure that the answers you get give you insights, rather than make you think ‘so what?’ You want the feedback to identify what is working, what isn’t working, where things are going wrong and why, and which people may be part of the problem or the solution.
- Notify your team that you will be doing this, when you are doing it, and why. Set aside a specific day or two and let them know that they will be required to participate. Let them know you want feedback from everyone on what’s working and what isn’t, so you can strengthen the business for the next phase of expansion.
- Ensure their feedback is confidential. You want everyone to feel they can share their feedback – and some of it may be about you and your management style – without recrimination. Reassure them that you are not interested in specifically what one person said over another, unless people offer good ideas which are always good to acknowledge and recognise who suggested them.
- Have an external person do this for you. People will share with an independent person more than they would ever share with ‘the boss’. And once they start talking and have the floor so to speak, the feedback floods out. An independent person also has an objective view of the information, and the dynamic which is uncovered about your business. Once you have this information as a consolidated report with summary conclusions and recommendations on the way forward, you have the foundations for building a stronger business.
- Share the feedback with your team. The worst thing to do is ask everyone to set aside time to share their ideas and feedback and then not share the results with them. They also want to see improvements and growth, which is why they take the time to give so much feedback. Present back to them what the findings were and the recommendations for moving forward. Obviously take out anything that may be sensitive or that you do not wish to share, but let them know what happens next.
- Be prepared to change your own behaviour. These exercises often point to behaviours of the CEO and how that person is running the company. Culture comes from the top. Micro managing often comes from the same place. Confusing directions and changing strategies come from the CEO. If you need to change your own behaviour and step up to being a better CEO as a result, embrace the change and watch your team respond. That’s what a good leader will do.
Good luck, and remember when your business has been through considerable expansion, or is wanting to grow further, this exercise will provide the signposts for what to do next.