The Problem with Candid Feedback

Candid feedback from employees can improve your company.

Getting honest employee opinions is harder than you think

For a business to succeed, it needs to reflect and honestly evaluate its people, processes, and challenges. And as a leader in your organization, you have the responsibility of establishing an environment that embraces honest feedback. But getting candid feedback can be challenging.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to encourage your team to be more honest when sharing their insights. And there are a lot of clear business benefits to establishing a culture of candid feedback in your business.

What Is “Candid” Feedback?

When people hear the term, “candid feedback”, some cringe. It’s become known as a euphemism for saying, “You’re doing something wrong and I need a nice way to tell you”.

But that’s not really the case.

In truth, candid feedback is simply honest feedback designed to point out your strengths and weaknesses. No one is perfect. And whether you’re a business owner or a team member, there’s always room for improvement.

You may give feedback on an employee’s performance, and they may provide feedback on aspects of the workplace culture, specific company policies, and so on.

The Problem With Asking For Candid Feedback

The problem with feedback is that it tends to miss the mark. People are afraid of upsetting or hurting others. But when you give feedback directly, no matter how many positive adjectives you use to soften it, you can feel like the villain. Ultimately, there’s the fear that it’ll be uncomfortable to work with that person after providing negative feedback.

As a result, people tend to hide the real truth. Managers gloss over employee reviews. Staff members, afraid to lose favor, refrain from speaking the truth. In the end, the business and the workplace culture suffer.

Candid feedback is powerful, though. Research shows that businesses are better for it.

So, how do you get candid feedback?

A lot of people will tell you that you need to create the right culture for providing candid feedback. Let your employees know that they won’t get fired or punished for offering criticism. Coach your team on how to provide candid feedback and your employees on how to receive it.

These are all good starting points. Unfortunately, it’s a bit one-sided because candid feedback is much easier for leadership to adopt than team members.

What ends up happening is that you create an unbalanced relationship where the employee feels like they can’t speak up about the things bothering them while management freely criticizes them. Even the best-intended feedback can corner employees and feel very one-sided if they feel like they don’t feel empowered to offer criticisms as well.

How to Encourage Candid Feedback

The key to success is to empower everyone in your organization to express their views on how your business operates. Specifically, you need to give your employees a way they can express their concerns without the fear of repercussion. And a simple solution for that is to collect feedback anonymously.

An online suggestion box is a great way to leave the door open for your staff to share their insights, struggles, and ideas with you directly. Whether it’s questioning operational procedures or critiquing management styles, employees can directly share their candid feedback directly with your leadership team.

In the end, your team will feel more empowered because they’ll know they have a voice. They’ll also learn to trust leadership as leaders respond and adapt to the criticism they receive. Instead of feeling like a one-sided relationship, it’ll feel more balanced.

This creates a positive feedback loop that will help everyone in the organization learn how they can improve.

Encourage employees to give candid feedback anonymously.

4 Business Benefits of Candid Feedback

Still on the fence about adopting a culture that embraces candid feedback? It’s important to note that avoiding candor in how you evaluate the people and processes of your organization can put your business at unnecessary risk.

1. It Provides a Realistic View of Operations

It’s impossible to know the challenges your team faces at a glance, no matter how astute of an observer you are. You may think that certain processes or workflows are effective, when in fact, your team is struggling to keep up with the increasing workload. Alternatively, there may be a process that’s dated or isn’t scaling with business needs.

The only way to know for certain is to get honest feedback from your employees. They’re the ones doing the work every day. They know how effective certain processes are and where improvements could be made. They may even have suggestions for optimizing these workflows that will save you time and money.

2. It Can Strengthen Team Relationships

Asking for candid feedback from your team shows that you’re comfortable being vulnerable. No one likes to have their flaws pointed out. But your eagerness to learn anything that’s making your staff’s lives harder (so you can fix it) can be a source of inspiration.

It can also foster a relationship of mutual respect. Instead of creating adversarial relationships with your staff, candid feedback positions you alongside your team ready to face the challenges your business provides.

Best of all, your team will realize that you have their best interests at heart, and that you value their experience and voice. These are critical components to being an effective leader. As a result, you find that your team is more ready to do what is necessary to help your business succeed.

3. It Encourages Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is not only crucial to maintaining a happy and satisfied workforce, it’s key to reducing your costs and improving your profit. Without staff buy-in, new initiatives will flounder, waste will go unaddressed, and inefficiencies will be the norm. After all, there’s no incentive to change operations.

Candid feedback encourages your employee engagement. They know that when they suggest improvements they’re not simply ignored. Plus, they understand that their lives at a job they care about can potentially improve with the feedback they offer.

When your team is bought into your organization, they’re more likely to care about improving how your business functions. They’ll look for ways to work more efficiently and suggest strategies that will help your business succeed. This is because they know that when your business wins, they win, too.

Knowing how your employees feel can improve your business.

4. It Reduces Risks

Operating without candid feedback is worse than running blind. When you’re running blind, you know you’re running blind. You’re cautious about where you’re going because you know you don’t have all the facts. However, when your team waters down feedback, you think you do have all the facts. That could lead to your business running full steam into a major problem.

For example, you trial a new demo for a CRM. You ask your team about their impressions. They can tell that you really like it. Rather than tell you that the software won’t work with your team culture or current systems, they agree with you that it’s great.

You onboard the software based on that knowledge only to find out later on that it’s problematic. Now you’re stuck with something that no one wants to use, anchored by a huge investment that puts your business at risk.

Candid feedback removes pretenses and paints a realistic picture of the challenges your team members and your business face. This reduces risk because you’re not led to believe something that isn’t true. As a result, you’re more likely to make better decisions for your business.

A Suggestion Box Can Get You the Best Candid Feedback

Candid feedback can improve your business, but getting it can be problematic. Regardless how honestly you’re asking for it, your employees may be hesitant to return this honesty.

The easiest way to overcome this challenge is to use an anonymous suggestion box like Suggestion Ox.

Thanks to our digital platform, employees can give their honest opinions about your company without the fear of repercussions. It’s a system that builds trust between employees and management. User-friendly, effective, and completely anonymous.

Suggestion Ox has turbocharged the suggestion box. Over 60,000 companies, associations and government agencies use their anonymous online suggestion box to gather actionable employee feedback, gain customer insights or empower whistleblowing and reporting.

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