The topic for this month’s Talent Talk is Feedback. Feedback is said to complete the communication loop (sender èreceiver èfeedback), but it requires its own loop to provide any value. As it applies to Talent, a lot of lip service is given to feedback, but it’s all for naught if it falls on deaf ears. Our team members ask for feedback, but do they get defensive or hurt if they don’t like what they hear? Do we whitewash our feedback because we’re concerned they might? As leaders and managers, we ask them for feedback, but do we turn it into action? 

Although most organizations have implemented channels to accept employees’ input, only about 30% of employees feel their opinions count. That is a huge dichotomy and one well within our control to change. How?  

By closing the feedback loop.  

The time to defend ourselves or explain why something cannot be done is not when we are receiving honest, open feedback.  

Instead, listen actively, acknowledge, and confirm what you heard, validate their feelings, and then close the loop by getting back to them with a plan of action. Action doesn’t mean implementing every suggestion. It could be providing an alternative that yields the same or another acceptable result, compromising on a partial change, or openly communicating the reasons a change is not feasible. It might mean developing and communicating a plan for a future time, providing progress reports, and then following through. People want to know they are heard, and it’s always within our power to be sure they are. 

 Improving this one statistic can significantly decrease turnover and increase engagement. It isn’t enough to simply say, “My door is always open.”  We must actively and deliberately invite them in. Seek input at scheduled intervals through individual communication. Employee engagement/satisfaction surveys administered by a third party with guaranteed anonymity is one way.  

 Scheduled check-ins for the first two years of employment as part of the onboarding process send a powerful message to new team members. Conducting progress reports or performance reviews opens two-way communication. Stay interviews, periodic meetings for the sole purpose of finding out how things are going provide a great flow of communication and send the message that our team members’ opinions are important to us. Continually find ways to ensure you know what the climate is within the organization, how they feel about routine tasks, and how a training workshop went. Never bypass an opportunity to ask for your team’s opinion and feedback, and always acknowledge and use as much of it as possible, and you will build an enviable level of trust and confidence with your team. 

 PBS prides itself on its efforts to listen to our team and strives for continuous improvement.