Proactive Feedback Strategies: The Acts After the Ask

Written by Lorcan Archer, Explorance.

Two employees discussing ways to take action based on collected employee feedback

Read time: Less than five minutes.

Synopsis: Feedback and assessment information can be invaluable to an enterprise, but only if it is utilized with purpose and action. This article outlines how to adopt an action-focused stance.

The value of employee feedback has been firmly established in most corporations and enterprises.

The insight that can be delivered via effective surveying and feedback gathering is considerable and can hold the key to grasping the solutions to both business and workforce problems.

However, insight without action can be a curse for an organization. Without adopting the proper posture to act on the information that’s been gathered, this feedback and data can become outdated, underappreciated, and eventually forgotten as the organization becomes consumed with following pressing daily priorities. It becomes a lost opportunity and a self-fulfilling prophecy that the effort expended on feedback is not worthwhile.

The organization that can carry out the groundwork of mobilizing the stakeholders required to take action on feedback will be better able to progress beyond the ask, to the act – and thereby realize its true power and value.  Below are some ways to avoid going through the motions and put the emphasis on action.

  1. Focus on Desired Outcomes

    Before selecting questions and forms, organizations should focus on the reasons that feedback is being sought. What is driving this push? Often, it will flow from a desire to remedy specific issues – such as to diagnose the true reasons for a higher-than-desired staff turnover rate, or to find where to improve training or skill development. These are completely legitimate goals, and companies will do well to center on these motivations prior to gathering feedback, as this will help set the gears of change in motion, readying stakeholders within the organization for a change. However, certain organizations will have committed to a culture of openness and employee empowerment, where feedback is highly valued and used to more broadly inform how the company operates. These companies will need to match application to ask – but can reap a rich harvest of organizational benefits if ready to act on broader feedback.

  2. Push for Action Where Possible

    Once feedback has been gathered in sufficient amounts that insights can be gleaned, a company can begin to position itself for action. This is often facilitated by an Experience Management (XM) platform like Blue, and marks an opportunity for an organization to shift to a posture of change – enacting programs, tweaking policies, and improving the employee experience. Think for a moment of the importance of this from the employee perspective. A considerable amount of time, effort, and even financial resources have been expended to gather feedback from you. To see a relatively prompt but meaningful measure taken, that stems from your feedback, would validate the process in the eyes of those who have engaged in it in good faith. It is the beginning of a genuine feedback loop, and this moment is a crucial one in a fully rounded strategy of feedback gathering. Where action can be confidently taken in response to feedback, without considerable risks or downsides, it should be acted on swiftly.

  3. Tackle Bigger Changes with the Rule of Three

    Not all feedback-led changes can or should be swiftly addressed. For long-term projects and shifts in culture, knowledge, or operations, a considered approach is necessary. This can be challenging, as big decisions need considerable rationale. Approaching a single major problem or obstacle, and then applying the rule of three in addressing it can be a productive approach. This method involves modeling a way to fix the issue at hand – however – the organization should challenge itself to identify an additional way to fix the issue or produce an optimal outcome. This is made far easier using a springboard of gathered and organized feedback. By taking things another step, and identifying a third option, the binary choice will be broken – resulting in a much more considered, and thought-out range of options. This may not be possible in all cases, but committing to this aspirational approach strengthens the rationale and decision-making involved, which in turn makes it easier for a company to overcome inertia and act on these big decisions.

  4. The Act of Communication

    Communication is an act – and a vitally important one. It acts as the bridge between the swifter actions that can be taken thanks to insightful feedback, and those larger, long-term strategy initiatives that take time. By committing to steady company-wide employee communication, an enterprise will keep employees informed as to progress and the reasons why things are taking longer. Being clear and earnest about the priorities of the organization helps to set expectations. In some cases, platforms that are used to gather feedback can also be used to inform and directly update employees on the topics they’ve just provided feedback on. A continuous listening feedback platform, like Bluepulse, can also play an active role in communication, providing real-time updates.

Recent studies have shown that consultation and feedback gathering, when not acted upon, can have a corrosive effect on employee engagement and retention. This is even more so the case in the current pandemic environment, when employees may have been consulted multiple times, but haven’t seen action materialize.

This indicates that a company that can only muster the resolve to ask will be walled off from the benefits of this insight. An action-focused stance will better deliver a strengthened employee experience that boosts both retention and engagement.


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