Why Asking For Employee Feedback Is The Best Way To Improve Employee Motivation

Posted By: Daniela Tancau

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Why Asking For Employee Feedback Is The Best Way To Improve Employee Motivation

When you start thinking about how to improve your employee motivation, you might begin by reading about it, either on the internet or in books. You have to start somewhere, right? You might hire a consultant or a coach, or you might take a course or training.

The choices that you make will be influenced by your beliefs about your role as an employer.

Some of you might hire someone to handle this aspect, giving them full responsibility or ownership. This could be because you think you don’t have time for it, you’re unsure of what to do, or maybe you believe other priorities require your attention.

Others among you might want to learn for yourself what can be done to improve employee motivation. You might enrol in online programs, take courses, or read books. You are taking ownership of the task and starting to work on it. 

Employee Motivation Is The Employer Responsibility

Yes, achieving employee motivation is a responsibility, a task. It doesn’t happen by default and it’s the company’s responsibility to have motivated employees. Because employee motivation is a key factor in having a successful business, neglecting this factor can have real consequences. It’s the company’s responsibility to hire people who are motivated by the job offers they receive (including all that the job brings to the job holder, such as salary package, job position, responsibilities, work environment etc.) and then it’s its responsibility to maintain that motivation.

I hear you, and in your defense, yes, there are situations in which personal factors like family issues or illnesses affect engagement. But even in these situations, it’s the employer’s responsibility to find out the reasons for disengagement and manage these situations in a way that supports the employee and doesn’t let them affect the business results and the other employees.

Those employers who believe that the employee has to be motivated by his/her job and that only him/her can do something about it, probably will not take any action to ensure their motivation, other than adjusting their salary packages. 

An employee can take responsibility of his/her motivation, but when they do this,  they will not change the things that bother them in the company where they work, because most of the time they can’t. But they might change the company. Or, in a worst-case scenario, they stay in the company without being motivated, doing the bare minimum to keep their job. This will affect not only your company results and resources but also the morale and engagement of other team members.

Whatever action you take to motivate your employees will help you get closer to this goal. But, as an entrepreneur, I’m sure you want more than this.  You probably want to make the best decision and get the desired results fast and easily.

Employee Feedback Is The Best Tool To Improve Employee Motivation

My intention in this blog post is to make a case and explain why I consider individual employee feedback to be the most efficient way to improve employee motivation, and why you, as an employer, are the most suitable person to ask for this feedback and listen to it.

If you have a large team, I get it, you can’t spend so much time listening to all of them, but you still can invest time to discuss with those in leading roles, who report directly to you. Then, you can involve HR to take the feedback from the rest of the employees. However, to better understand your business challenges and how employees’ experiences are in your company, I would recommend talking with people from lower levels too, at least with some of them. It will give you o more accurate image without filtered information from a third person.

Why You Need Individual Feedback And Not Statistics

The opposite of individual feedback is mass feedback or anonymous feedback. Statistics help us to have a broader picture of what motivates employees, but they don’t provide information about what motivates a particular employee.

When you ask for feedback from an employee with the purpose of finding out that person’s motivational drivers, you’ll identify only that particular person’s motivational drivers. And this is all you need to improve or maintain that specific person’s level of motivation over time. Statistics results can’t do that. 

Not all employees are motivated by the same things. What motivates one employee may not be appealing to other. For example, one person may be motivated by professional growth and gaining experience, especially those at the beginning of their careers, while another might be primarily  motivated by money, perhaps due to  high expenses. 

Secondly, there are many factors that contributes to an employee’s motivation level, and these have a different order of importance for each individual. 

Why It's Better When You, The Employer, Take The Feedback

1.

You Know Best Your Company Plans and Resources

You may delegate someone else to collect this feedback but it will not be the same. 

Because you run your business you know the resources of your company, and your company’s goals and direction. Because of that,  you can understand the feedback in a unique way. You are the only person able to analyse the feedback, specifically their expectations and perceptions and relate it to your business plans, resources, and values. 

For example, if an employee says that she is interested in having more tasks in a specific area, you would know if your business needs more of that task. If an employee is interested in social media management, you can asses if you want to expand the online presence and reach a wider audience and if this aligns with the company’s growth strategy. Or, if an employee expresses his willingness to lead training sessions on a specific skill, the employer may assess if that skill is needed in the company, if it will be beneficial for the company and decide based on these factors.

2.

You Create Greater Connections With Your Employees

You get to know your employees better and connect with them at a deeper level. 

The employee will feel respected and valued because you have taken the time to carefully listen to them. 

3.

You Become a Better Leader

You can’t lead people without knowing and understanding them. You’ll be able to make decisions taking into consideration their personal motivational drivers. Care about your employees, and they will care about you.

4.

You Avoid Biases & Filters Of a Third Person

When you delegate this to another person, personal interests may interfere, or they may have different filters through which they understand and use the information.

You will not have the same understanding if you receive the information from a third person. When you directly hear from the employee, you perceive the tone, emotions, implications and other stuff that can’t be communicated by a third person.  Information can be lost or misinterpreted. 

Here are some filters and biases that can occur:

Selective Memory: The person may only remember certain aspects of the conversation, especially those that align with their own beliefs or perspectives.

Confirmation Bias: They might emphasize or interpret information in a way that confirms their existing beliefs or preconceptions.

Subjective Interpretation: The person may interpret the information based on their own experiences, emotions, or biases, leading to a subjective representation of the original conversation.

Semantic Distortion: Words or phrases used in the original conversation may be interpreted differently by the person conveying the information, leading to a distortion of the original meaning.

Emotional Bias: Strong emotions experienced during the conversation or afterward can colour how the person recalls and communicates the information, potentially skewing its accuracy.

Social Desirability Bias: The person may alter the information to align with what they believe the listener wants to hear, rather than accurately representing the original conversation.

Selective Filtering: They may choose to omit certain details or perspectives from the original conversation, consciously or unconsciously, which can affect the accuracy of the communicated information.

Miscommunication: The original conversation may have included nuances, tone, or nonverbal cues that are lost in translation when conveyed to another person, leading to misunderstandings or inaccuracies.

Memory Decay: Over time, the person’s memory of the conversation may fade or become distorted, leading to inaccuracies when communicating the information to someone else.

If you are considering eliminating these by recording the meetings or using AI to record and summarize them, you might discourage your employees from speaking openly. Not all of us would be relaxed in these circumstances.

When The Employee Feedback Is Real

An employee may hesitate to express his/her true opinions about certain aspects of his/her job. They may fear upsetting their boss or colleagues, they may be afraid of being sanctioned for speaking the truth. Sometimes, employees refrain from communicating the true reasons for which they left a company in the exit interviews too. They want to leave on good terms and not upset anyone. It doesn’t matter for them anyway, right? But they did leave the company for those reasons. 

Lack of trust in speaking the truth is not only an issue at a personal level but also at the level of company’s culture.

A certain person may express his/her opinions openly, regardless of the possible imagined consequences, in any company, while another may refrain from doing so. This latter person may have a boss who doesn’t accept opinions different from their own and who becomes defensive when somebody does so. So the employee may consider that it’s useless anyway, or they may not want to spoil their relationship with the boss, or they may just be afraid to do so.  

When a company has a culture that encourages open communication and discourages behaviours that are contrary to that, like ”leadership” based on fear or control, people will feel safe to speak. 

You can create such a culture by setting an example yourself, by not reacting defensively when someone expresses an idea opposite to yours or they don’t agree with you. This doesn’t mean that you have to accept their ideas or opinions, just that you listen and understand their arguments. These can be solid or not. Sometimes it can save you from making a bad decision. Let’s face it, we don’t always see the full spectrum of a situation and another person’s opinion can add valuable information. And other times, when the employee’s arguments are not solid, you can use these opportunities to help the employee understand your perspective and accept it. He may missed important aspects of the issue and become aware of them due to your conversation. He will be more engaged and will do a better job when he agrees with it.

But when an employee’s opinions are shortly cut off, dismissed, or harshly critiqued, most probably he/she will refrain from speaking in the future. What’s the point, right?

So, a culture where employees feel safe to speak, where there is trust that nothing bad will happen if they do so, will help to receive real/accurate feedback from your employees. 

And yes, sometimes you’ll have employees who will say ”yes” to everything because they want to be liked and accepted, but you can encourage them to express their ideas first or to find solutions on their own and to propose to you. When they see that nobody is punished in any way for having a different perspective, that things are discussed and then everybody agrees with a certain course of action, they will realize that their way of making themselves liked and accepted makes no sense.

Conclusions

Don’t hesitate to speak with your employees and ask for their feedback. You’ll get valuable information that will help you improve each of them motivations, thereby enhancing your business results and growth. 

If you need help structuring the discussions with them and guidance on how to use the information, contact me here: daniela.tancau@improvework.ro. You can also check out the online course below. It’s exactly about this.

ONLINE PROGRAM FOR ENTREPRENEURS WITH TEAMS

Daniela Tancau
Posted By: Daniela Tancau

Daniela Tancau is an HR consultant, trainer, coach, and founder of Improve Work company. She has over fifteen years of experience in the human resources field. Her expertise lies primarily in online programs and courses aimed to increase employee motivation, develop team leadership skills, employee communication, and much more. 

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