Creating A Safe Space For Employees To Speak Up

Written by Benjamin Lee

Honest, sincere feedback is crucial if an organization is to grow professionally. From constructive criticisms, positive feedback, and even complaints, such information allows managers and leaders to enact change within their organizations.

Rather unfortunately, many organizations do not have the proper mechanisms to receive feedback from their employees. This week, IQDynamics takes a look at how an HRM system is able to help employers elicit genuine feedback from their employees.

Ensure anonymity

It goes without saying that interactions between manager and employee are usually plagued by an inherent power dynamic. As much as managers would like to be open and honest with their employees, there will always be that slight element of hesitation and fear.

 

Consequently, data collected from employees tends to be inaccurate and artificially skewed. For example, during town hall sessions, chances are good that the majority of your employees will be unwilling to provide negative feedback of any kind.

 

This is especially true In an Asian society like Singapore where conformity and a rigid adherence to power structures are an expected part of life. This so-called “unwritten rule” can be traced to the roots of Singaporean culture where authority figures are to be obeyed unquestioningly and providing negative feedback or criticism of any kind would be to invite retribution. While this may seem to be an exaggeration of the Asian mindset, the reality of it couldn’t be closer to the truth.

 

As shared with us by “Chloe”, an accounts executive working in Singapore, when faced with negative feedback or criticism, her manager would often react in a defensive manner and accuse subordinates of being “insolent” and “uncooperative”. Along with this, speaking out of turn would usually result in said staff member being blacklisted by the leadership team which would mean poor KPI reviews and other forms of discrimination.

 

Cowing employees into silence will only serve to instill fear in employees and discourage honest feedback. This would mean that interface sessions such as town halls and one-to-one sessions will only yield false positives this leaving managers in the dark as to the true disposition of their entire team.

 

However, with an appraisal management system like IQDynamics, managers and business owners will be able to provide employees with a means to provide their feedback anonymously to the leadership team. With the comfort of anonymity, employees will be encouraged to provide managers and leaders with the feedback they need to improve themselves.

 


Follow-up with employees

While receiving genuine feedback from employees is all well and good, HR professionals also need to follow-up on criticisms and suggestions submitted. In fact, receiving feedback is just the beginning of the process.

 

Suggestions boxes are well-intentioned but outdated concepts when it comes to employee engagement. Having a suggestion box and inviting employees to submit their ideas is well and good, but the lack of follow-up is a major reason why employees don’t bother posting their suggestions

 

In fact, among some circles, the suggestion box has been sarcastically deemed as “the place where good ideas go to die.” Thus in today’s digital age, HR professionals need to think outside the box in order to better engage with their employees.

 

With a HR management system like IQDynamics, HR professionals are able to keep track of suggestions and complaints submitted by employees. Hence from here, they are better able to follow-up with their employees in order to take corrective action of any kind. Nothing destroys an employee’s initiative then seeing his/her feedback being ignored outright.

 

On the long-term, such an approach will inculcate a culture of openness and honesty while at the same time, ensuring two-way communication between both employer and employees. All of this will serve to improve employee engagement and morale.

Changing the culture

While providing employees with the means to provide genuine feedback is well and good, leaders within the organization must also be able to accept feedback provided by employees. Upwards feedback can be a challenge for some managers, and as was seen in the scenario above, some leaders are unwilling and unable to accept negative feedback.

 

Hence as HR professionals, we have a responsibility to ensure that members of the leadership team are receptive to feedback provided by their employees. Through a concerted effort between the leadership team and the HR department, this outdated mindset can be changed. All of which can only be done through a combination of training, continuous feedback, and coaching.

 

Recognizing the need to educate current and future leaders, our HRM system has been specially designed with a variety of talent development and management modules which offer a variety of training programs to develop managers and leaders.

 

Educating managers and ensuring that they recognize the importance of receiving upwards feedback is crucial if the organization is to develop a culture of feedback. Ensuring that leaders in the organization lead by example is a great way of helping to implement this culture within your organization.

 

At IQDynamics, our goal is to provide employees with a safe space to provide feedback both negative and positive without fear of repercussions or retaliation. While some may balk at the idea of being criticised by their subordinates, such feedback while difficult to swallow is crucial for the growth of the organization on the long-term.

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