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Dread Asking for Employee Feedback?

Below is an excerpt from the book WINX – The Problem Solving Model to Win Exponentially with Customers, Employees & Your Bottom Line.

If you prevent people from providing feedback because you would rather stick your head in the sand, remember—the ocean will continue to roll in no matter what. And, what they think remains relevant even if they are wrong. And even if they are negative it is better to hear and have discussions around negative or different feedback than to have the employees have those conversations with everyone, except you!

Feedback is critical, and comments or feedback from employees are often the last wall between making a good decision or a bad one. Remember, it was employees at Samsung whose feedback about the dangerous manufacturing of cell phones could have prevented phones from burning and blowing up. Their feedback was ignored.

NASA? They ignored the feedback from several engineers about the o-rings on the space shuttle that cost the lives of seven astronauts.

The truth is, many companies don’t want to hear candid and truthful feedback from their employees. According to a Leadership IQ study, ignoring employee feedback is having a disastrous impact on employee engagement, morale, and culture.

From January-June, 2017, Leadership IQ surveyed 27,048 executives, managers and employees and discovered:

  • Just 15% of employees believe that their organization always openly shares the challenges facing it. If an employee believes that their company always openly shares the challenges facing it, they’re about 10 times more likely to recommend it as a great employer.
  • Only 24% of people say that their leader always encourages and recognizes suggestions for improvement. And if someone thinks their leader constantly encourages and recognizes suggestions for improvement, they’re about 12 times more likely to recommend it as a great employer.
  • Only 6% of people say that at their organization, good suggestions or valid complaints from employees always lead to important changes. If someone says good suggestions or valid complaints from employees always lead to important changes, they’re about 18 times more likely to recommend the company as a great employer.
  • Only 23% of people say that when they share their work problems with their leader, he/she always responds constructively. And if someone says the leader always responds constructively when they share their work problems, they’re about 12 times more likely to recommend the company as a great employer.”

The study also showed too few leaders are open to hearing feedback or suggestions. I’ve seen time and time again that executives don’t like to see the rank and file come up with better suggestions than the leadership. They don’t realize that’s what great leaders value—employee engagement and concern that benefits the company. This isn’t a competition.

When employees of any rank or role have good feedback, it should be examined for the value it brings, not for who came up with the idea. For instance, Richard Montañez was a janitor for Frito-Lay’s Rancho Cucamonga plant when he invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. You’d think executives would have eaten up the idea and heavily invested in it. But they didn’t. According to an LA Times interview with Montañez, Frito-Lay’s corporate backstabbers tried to sabotage him for “stepping out of line.” After all, he was “just a janitor.”

Montañez, confident in his idea and himself, out-hustled them. Flamin’ Hots Cheetos became a hugely popular snack. Janitor or not, Montañez had imagined a chile-covered Cheeto and believed in himself enough to call up the chief executive to pitch his idea. The rest is history. At the time his position paid $4 an hour. The only way to go was up.

Montañez didn’t just stop at inventing the popular snack. According to the LA Times, he went on to write a book for Penguin-Random House, and now speaks at different events around the country, including WalMart, Target, Harvard, and USC, commanding from $5,000 to $50,000 per talk.

He was just the janitor. According to Newsweek and other news sources, Frito-Lay is making “billions” on the snack—nearly every major Frito-Lay line, from Smartfood popcorn to Funyuns, now has a Flamin’ Hot variety on the market.

How can you encourage your employees to come up with creative ideas that bring success to the company and the team as well as other employees and customers?

  • Create trust between managers and team members to achieve honest feedback.
  • Develop the confidence to hire people more intelligent than themselves.
  • Stay open to others with ideas different from yours.
  • Develop constant psychological safety for employees to learn and grow.
  • Keep your door open to get regular feedback and even complaints from your employees. This way you will remove the development of surprise complaints that may reach you too late to address effectively.
  • Ask for ideas. You might even have contests. This is a little different than asking for feedback.
  • And conduct routine confidential surveys through a third party so there is no risk of identifying the employee’s identity.

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Interested in purchasing our book WINX (pronounced Win X)? Go directly to Amazon from this link.