Business owners have to deal with many concerns on a daily basis, from finances to customer service. But many of them unintentionally overlook the internal issues in their company, and only learn about problems on their team when someone submits their resignation.
To avoid this problem, it’s important to establish a transparent culture that encourages open feedback. This helps you catch the signs of an unhappy team member early so you can attempt to intervene and retain that person. Below, 14 Forbes Coaches Council members offered their tips for encouraging employees to voice concerns before it’s too late.
1. Hold A Quarterly ‘Stay’ Interview
Take time with each of your employees at least once a quarter to learn about their desires for growth. Take an employee to coffee, lunch or even just a walk around the block and ask them: “What skills are you looking to develop? How can I help you grow?” – Aaron Levy, Raise The Bar
2. Train Managers To Watch For The Warning Signs
The warning signs that someone is going to leave are often loud and clear, if only managers knew what to look for and how to respond. Better still, train managers to interact with their team in a way that doesn’t lead them to want to quit in the first place. Employees leave managers. Without fostering better leadership with managers, no feedback system to learn who is about to quit will help. – Larry Boyer, Success Rockets LLC
3. Create An Agreement And Process For Feedback Delivery
Feedback can be intimidating for many leaders because it can become personalized. Instead, create an agreement around the delivery of the feedback that supports the sharing of the experience of the process, the project, the task or the behaviors of the leader on a quarterly basis. Use surveys, conversations or team meetings that will begin to inform you of the employees’ experience. – Sheeba Varghese, Sheeba Varghese
4. Actively Look For Signs Of Burnout And Ask How You Can Help
As leaders, we need to keep our finger on the pulse of our organizations. “Busyness” often gets in the way and makes us disconnected from the team. Go out where the work is happening. Look for signs of burnout and job dissatisfaction. Ask direct questions such as, “How can I make your job more rewarding?” and “What can I do for you?” Once you get answers, act on them if feasible. – Amy Modglin, Modglin Leadership Solutions
5. Make It Public
Employees don’t know what other employees say behind closed doors. Therefore, they can easily believe that no one else is giving honest feedback. Hold public accountability sessions by putting your leaders in a panel and inviting feedback. Create safety by having employees generate the feedback in groups. Answer the hard questions and act on them, and you will signal that this organization values feedback. – Maureen Cunningham, Up Until Now Inc.
6. Engage In Regular 360 Feedback Sessions
Most organizations use 360-degree feedback when they learn about a leadership problem. Engaging in an annual 360 for not only individual leaders but of the leadership team as a whole will create a candid feedback loop. A brief pulse survey quarterly or semi-annually will create accountability for leaders to act on the feedback received and show their commitment to listening. – Jenn Lofgren, Incito Executive & Leadership Development
7. Establish A Culture Of Listening
When trust and psychological safety do not exist in an organization, it is generally because people do not feel heard, so they stop speaking up. Not only is this harmful for retention, but also for productivity and innovation. Organizations need to train leaders on how to listen actively, ask more questions and ensure it is an embedded process within the talent development strategy. – Renelle Darr, InSight Coaching & Consulting
8. Invest In Employee Training And Continuing Education
Employees want you to invest in their future. During the Great Recession, curtailing and dropping training was in vogue. That mindset still pervades and hurts retention. What are employees saying when they leave? “My future is somewhere else.” Most companies that invest in their people through training, certifications and to their development reduce turnover. Give them a voice and a reason to stay. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
9. Speak To Your Staff Daily
I make a point to ask, “Is there anything I can help you with today?” to everyone in my office every day. I ask them what is missing and what needs to be improved and there is no penalty for being blunt and honest. You’ll find that your employees want to tell you what’s wrong and how to fix it. – Ryan Stewman, Break Free Academy
10. Acknowledge Good Performance Regularly
Want to get your child to clean their room? Don’t ask or tell them to do it. Acknowledge what a great job they did, and they will do it without asking. When leaders ask for and acknowledge feedback given by team members, team members grow the confidence to share more. Acknowledging feedback, especially critical feedback, increases its impact and frequency in your organization. – John Hittler, Evoking Genius
11. Pay The Most Attention To Top Performers
We often fall into the trap of spending more time with our weaker players than our top performers. Top performers are autonomous and get great results without much help — that’s why they are great. But by that logic, would a basketball coach spend less time with their star players to coach the bench players? No! Your star players deserve the most attention, the most playing time and the ball. – Jim Vaselopulos, Rafti Advisors, Inc.
12. Appoint An Employee Advocate
There are many ways to keep the company leadership in the loop about their employees’ satisfaction; however, one particular method that has worked well for my clients is employee advocacy. Enlist a designated employee who can keep the feedback loop open without the feedback backfiring on a specific employee. That employee can communicate concerns up the chain without fear of consequences. – Kamyar Shah, World Consulting Group
13. Start With Middle Managers
Any organization’s strongest connection to their employees is their direct managers. Those in intermediate or middle management are the people who have the most significant impact on the engagement of your workforce and how they view the company overall. Start by making sure you are developing the middle tier of leadership to reflect the culture and behavior of the organization. – Tonya Echols, Thrive Coaching Solutions
14. Do Something With The Feedback You Receive
Companies clamor to get feedback from employees, yet they rarely do anything based on the input, which is precisely why your people stop talking to you. Stop asking for “feedback” and start identifying and solving real problems for people. You’ll still need their feedback, of course, but if you are willing to engage in true problem solving and change, you’re likely to get more honest feedback. – Jamie Notter, Human Workplaces