While feedback is something that C-Suite executives seek out, getting an email marked with the words “Annual Review” is enough to make even the toughest entry-level employees nervous. The general idea of feedback in the business world is that it’s for managers to give based on an employee’s performance with a strong focus on their mistakes. We need to change this thinking.
Leadership development programs are designed to bring teams together to learn the importance of giving and receiving feedback for employees at all levels.
It’s especially important for leaders to receive feedback from their people in order to customize their leadership practices. So, here are three concepts HR management can push to encourage a change in perspective, and open up the floor for entry-level employees to give feedback.
Ask For It
Feedback gives us the direction to improve ourselves, and hearing it directly from another keeps us accountable to our self-improvement promises. The problem is entry-level employees may not have the confidence yet to see past powerful positions and bring mistakes to the attention of their boss. They don’t want to risk being punished or berated for pointing out errors. Make it clear that you want and expect to be given feedback, and that it doesn’t have to be right or bad or even good.
One way to initiate a feedback conversation is to ask for advice. They may respond better when you ask them for guidance vs constructive criticism. Through the conversation you can get a read on how they feel, and begin creating a connection that will encourage openness in future conversations.
Make It a Habit
This one is obvious, rinse and repeat. If you frequently engage in feedback conversations with your team, eventually they’ll start coming forward with what they need from you without asking. Start by asking them about their experiences with questions such as:
- How supported do you feel by me and the team?
- How are you feeling in your role?
- What is going right/wrong?
It will probably be awkward at first, but by making it normal and expected they will overcome those feelings. A tip to intro these conversations with team members who are especially shy is by promoting an open door policy. Having management that never says “not now” makes entry-level employees feel that they and their time is appreciated. It will allow these employees to come to you with concerns in any way they feel comfortable – method, time or topic.
How many times have you considered approaching someone with how they’ve wronged you, but stopped yourself, thinking they wouldn’t care? We’ve all been there. If you don’t act upon the feedback that your people give you the first time, it could stop them from coming to you a second. Or third.
The longer you take to start making change, just further diminishes the trust and confidence that your team has to share their perspectives with you.
Something that HR management needs to encourage among executives is self awareness. Understanding that what you do and say affects others is essential to creating a safe space for your team to come to you with feedback. Without self awareness, people are unlikely to see where they need to change and improve the corresponding behaviours and habits – making feedback null.
Programs for Entry-Level Employees
It comes down to this: ignorance is not bliss. Executives should be actively seeking feedback, and ways to obtain it from their teams in order to create the most positive, successful experience for all employees, at all levels. To achieve this, they need the shift in perspective that comes from a leadership development program. Uniquely curated programs or workshops that are dedicated to strengthening leadership skills and behaviours needed to help entry-level employees grow and excel.