The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone’s editors or publishers.
As people deeply involved in the day-to-day running of a business, employees often have the best insights into what works and what doesn’t in a business. When you’re a leader, knowing what employees think about how operations could be improved can be a critical part of ensuring your company’s success.
Incorporating employee feedback into your company culture can therefore ensure that you hear the opinions of your team on a regular basis. To help you accomplish this, a panel of Rolling Stone Culture Council members offer their own opinions on how you can embed feedback into your company culture and ensure everyone is heard.
Have an open dialogue with employees
Leaders should always have an open dialogue with their employees. While you are “the boss”, the environment should make people feel like an equal. Be sure to ask your employees what they think about certain aspects of your business and how it currently operates. Everyone has different ideas based on their age range, conversations they have with others, and experiences. – Heather Besignano, ICON PR
Hold regular meetings
Our team is just that – a team. We hold regular meetings with management and general staff to encourage, train, reward and give and receive feedback from all team members. We have cultivated a culture of personal investment because we want our team to feel connected to their work and to their colleagues. This increases productivity and long-term retention. –Sheila Dedenbach, Heavenly Sweet
Regardless of the size of your business, your employees will find themselves in various trenches that you may not see or experience. Their ideas are very important. Encouraging feedback and suggestions as part of the company culture makes employees not only feel more engaged, but also feel part of the evolution and growth of the company. – Shirin Etessam, OML
Plan a company outing
Company outings are great ways to get employee insights in a relaxed, non-threatening atmosphere. They will see that you care about them and show your appreciation, all while listening to what they have to say. – Matt Campbell, My Wedding Songs
Host a quarterly “Creative Friday”
Creative Friday is a “walk-in” meeting held quarterly. The team comes together to share thoughts and ideas. We have food, drinks and a “talking stick” so everyone is heard. There is no criticism because there are no bad ideas. The goal is to allow a flow of sharing in a fun and respectful environment. The result is for me to continue to grow as a leader and to support the team. – Brooksie Hughes, BAH Productions Inc.
Ask HR to perform individual checks
When you’re a leader, keep the lines of communication open by having HR or a staff member check in with employees at least twice a year, one-on-one, and just ask them what’s working and what’s not. , is a very simple way for staff to feel heard and a great way to gather feedback on how to improve the organization. – Nicole Rodrigues, NRPR Group
Give employees access to a feedback log
Our employees have daily access to a “What makes my day difficult” diary. They can provide feedback on ineffective, awkward, distracting, or unhelpful activities (eg, too many meetings). If we start to see patterns in the WMMDD log, that’s when we start to optimize or eliminate existing processes. – Jimmy DeCicco, Super Cafe
Be open to team opinions
As a small startup, we believe every employee has valuable feedback to share. Each department can only have a few team members, so we’re always open to hearing how processes and workflows can be improved for maximum productivity and efficiency. Especially in the beginning, as a startup with limited resources, it’s essential to work smarter, not harder. – Vanessa Gabriel, direct delivery
Implement employee suggestions
Making changes big and small based on employee feedback is probably the most important part and would naturally encourage feedback and open communication. Sharing constructive criticism is essential, but if nothing ever changes, people will be discouraged from doing so. Feedback without resulting action can create a very negative situation. Create the point of sale, then implement the change. – Jessica Passman, hunter + squire
Incorporate project management apps
Implementing project management apps can make it easier for employees to share information and feedback. At my company, we use the Trello app because ideas and projects are always in sync across our team. Unlike conference calls that can be difficult to organize or group messages that can get lost, using an app can make important ideas accessible and prevent things from getting lost in translation. – Irma Miriam Penunuri, Burgerrock Media
Put everyone on an equal footing
We like to train employees to learn everything. Cross-training has shown us as owners that the “weakest link” theory is almost non-existent in the workplace when everyone is “equal” in terms of experience, training and ability. In this environment, everyone’s opinions matter and have validity and value. It also allows everyone to listen fairly to everyone, without reservation or judgement. – Chris Martin, Hemp Farms
Conduct post-project reviews
Whether you are working on one project or 10, the value of a post-project review and/or project milestone reviews cannot be overstated. Meaningful learning comes from acknowledging what went wrong or what is not currently working. By operationalizing this type of review into your team’s workflow, you create a culture of open dialogue, and team members’ willingness to share becomes second nature. – Chris Murray, FoxNRTH Inc.
For an employee, it’s usually quite stressful to be open. Create a culture that rewards curiosity. Curiosity takes over and creates a trusting environment for questions, thoughts, and ideas. This allows all levels to be honest and engaged, and the organization as a whole will benefit from the knowledge and experience shared. –Michael Klein, Miraculo Inc.
Provide space during one-to-one meetings
Schedule weekly one-on-one check-ins with team members and leave space for them to provide feedback. Allowing this space will encourage and empower them to be themselves and authentic, knowing that their feedback is sought and valued. Direct reports can implement systems of change that will provide evidence that feedback from their team members has been considered. – Marla Matime, Voice Media Ventures
Keeping in touch with the staff as you evolve becomes harder and harder to do. Providing anonymous spaces for feedback, even a suggestion box, can create a low-stakes feedback stream from the front lines of your team. It can be an anonymous web form or even a whiteboard for ideas. Removing the perceived execution risk of having an idea has been vital to company culture. – Michael Thomas, Kindercore Vinyl