How to act on employee feedback - A short guide

Vedran Ismaili on

Without action feedback is useless, but how do you actually act on feedback shared by your team in a good and simple way?

Many assume that working with feedback is complex and requires a lot of time, but that doesn't need to be the case. Working with team feedback can be simple and empowering, offering your team a great opportunity to come together and improve well-being, engagement, and productivity.

Below we summarized a few points which combine our learnings and best practices to help you work with team feedback in a good and effective way.

Take advantage of team meetings

An important part of working with feedback is to find natural meeting points to discuss the shared feedback. Devoting a few minutes during a regular team meeting will serve as a great starting point.

We recommend managers to at least take the time once a month to discuss the feedback shared by the team. The reason for the "once a month" minimum is that feedback is fragile and it's essential to create momentum early on. By discussing the feedback shared early on and continuously, everyone in the team will be made aware that the feedback shared is a priority and that it will be acted upon.

Taking action on shared feedback is essential if you are looking to improve your team's overall performance. If you don't act on the feedback shared by your employees it is likely that it will become a disengaging activity rather than an empowering one.

Remember, feedback without action is pretty useless so make sure that you can dedicate a small fraction of your time to act on the feedback shared. Everyone has the time it most often comes down to priorities.

Worth knowing is that not prioritising and gathering feedback most often comes at a steep cost. Internal issues won't be identified early enough which will affect productivity, innovation and overall well-being of your team. The time you may think you will save by not gathering and acting on feedback will most likely be wasted on putting out fires and searching for new employees.

Focus on a few questions

So once you have decided to dedicate time to act on the feedback shared, how do you do it in the best possible way?

Preparing a bit ahead of team meetings will make a huge difference. With prepared, we mean that you have selected 1-2 questions you would like the team's input on. It can be questions you find interesting or where scores have been low. The easiest way to identify which questions to start with is by looking at the score of a question or the comments within the question itself. Also, questions with a wide spread may be of interest since they most often illustrate a clear division within the team.

Limiting yourself to 1-2 questions may sound a bit strange at first, but it will actually increase the probability for you and your team to make an impactful change. Also by focusing on few questions, you will also make the meetings more focused and manageable.

Invite everyone to the discussion

It is essential that you as the manager take a lead during your team meetings. Focus on creating an open environment where everyone has the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas. Every team has a few opinionated members and that is great but make sure that everyone in the team feels invited and included in the discussions.

When it comes to finding good ideas on how to improve a specific matter it may be a good idea for team members to both work individually and together. Usually, we recommend our teams to work as follows:

Sometimes it can be a bit hard to get discussions off the ground and the questions below may serve as a good starting point for knowing what to ask.

*How might we better at X on a day-to-day basis? *How might we improve X within our team? *How might we make our team a place where we X?

Remember, feedback is all about moving forward and it is therefore essential to focus on precisely that. By focusing on moving forward it will be much simpler to avoid getting stuck in previously negative or unproductive behaviors that may have resulted in a low score. By focusing on what is currently the issues without playing a blame game it is easier to keep a positive tone about where the team wants to go.

Set clear actions

Once a few ideas have been agreed upon, make sure to note them down and either select someone from the team that is responsible for taking ownership of that action or make it your own responsibility. Including someone from the team may be a great way to boost engagement while enabling you to delegate tasks.

When working with actions we often recommend teams to use a kanban board. Kanban boards are great for getting an overview of how things are progressing. By working with a kanban board and having one that is specific for your team it will also become a "living" testimony of your team's dedication to improving things.

A good idea is to have a physical kanban board on a wall at the office. This will ensure that each team member is reminded of it and it will also enable everyone to take ownership of the teams common actions. We included a kanban board below which you can gladly use with your team. You can also personalize it by adding your team's name at the top "Our actions - Team .."

If you are working with feedback on a continuous basis for the first time it may be a bit different but it doesn't need to be complicated. Give yourself and your team a little bit of time to get it right. Like anything new, it takes a bit of practice to get right. Every team is different but it is only by trying you can figure out what works the best.

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Illustration: Andrew Watch

Vedran Ismaili

Co-founder & CEO - chatbot builder, optimist and rookie skateboarder.