In my last post Keeping employees on board, my premise was to challenge company management to ask for employee feedback. There was a small phrase at the end of the blog, “if acted upon,” which holds the key for this post.
Remember when you were a kid and you heard that all-too-familiar music coming from down the street? You knew it was the local ice cream truck. Your excitement was nearly uncontainable. You would run to find your parents and ask them to stop the truck and buy something for you.
Did they ever say “that ice cream is overpriced and not very tasty; we’ll go to the local ice cream parlor later and get something good”? Or even worse, did they just ignore your question pretending to be busy with something else? At least with the first response you felt some hope of getting ice cream. But if you never ended up going to the local ice cream parlor, your reaction to that music coming down the street turns from excitement to disappointment because your feedback was never acted upon.
Management’s inability to respond to feedback (positive or negative) is a leading indicator of an unhealthy workplace. Yes, people want to be heard, but they also expect a response or action. Sometimes that response is simply: “thanks for your input; we are unable to change this right now.” While other times actionable solutions, changes or programs develop from the feedback.
The point is this: if management does not take some action in response to feedback, the eventual result will be disappointment; and people will stop providing feedback to management. Instead, they will provide that feedback to other people, possibly even your customers. Once that happens, the end is very near. The culture will become poisoned, and the employees will lose all trust in management.
Does that mean that every idea or piece of feedback needs to be acted upon? No, but creating an atmosphere of open, honest, constructive feedback and acting on some of the items will turn disappointment into excitement. Just like finally being able to stand at the curb and yell stop to the ice cream truck used to bring sheer joy to your heart. Remember that?