Listening to your team and incorporating their feedback is a key part of building a strong company culture and a winning strategy. But blasting out an employee survey once a year and calculating NPS scores isn't enough--especially for remote teams who have to work even harder to build relationships. Instead, encourage leaders and managers to collect feedback on an ongoing basis. Doing so will allow you to address roadblocks head-on while encouraging creativity, collaboration, and innovation among your remote employees.
Start by Asking, "How Are You?"
Especially when working remotely, it's easy to dispense with the pleasantries and get straight to business at the start of each meeting. But if you do, you'll miss out on a key opportunity to gain intel on your team's mindset and priorities. Instead, try starting the call with an icebreaker, or simply asking, "How was your weekend?" or "What's one good thing that happened in the past week?" Alternatively, do a temperature check by asking something like, "What's the most important thing you're working on this week?" or "How are you feeling about reaching your goals?"
For remote teams, video calls can help managers pick up on nonverbal cues and connect more easily with their employees. This may help clue in managers when a team member is struggling or feeling isolated, allowing them to address the issue as soon as possible.
Simply asking the questions--even the right ones--won't get you the honest feedback that you need to run your business. For your remote team to be open with you, you'll need to gain their trust first.
If you want to create a culture of candidness and truth-telling, it has to start from the top down. That means being vulnerable enough to share your human side--the good, the bad, and the ugly. By setting this example, you send a message that it's okay for your team to share their struggles and challenges with you in return.
The benefit? When your team is open with you, you won't have to worry about being left in the dark for the things you don't necessarily want to hear, but need to know. At the same time, you encourage trust and loyalty between team members, making collaboration easier and more natural.
The relationship between an employee and their boss plays a critical role in retention. Our team uses quarterly check-ins between managers and their direct reports to both give and get feedback. Beyond reviewing important goals and projects, these meetings help to uncover hidden issues that could otherwise erode job satisfaction and performance.
When done correctly, these quarterly conversations offer team members a way to safely express their needs, concerns, aspirations, and ideas. Especially for newer employees, these sessions are an important opportunity for them to get clarity, ask for training, hear feedback on their performance, and offer constructive criticism on how the company operates.
Listen, Don't Defend
For managers and leaders, it can be difficult to hear constructive criticism about the company, processes, or products that you've (painstakingly) helped to build. In these moments, you must have faith in your team. Trust their expertise and opinions. Avoid explaining or defending and, instead, just listen. Focus on asking clarifying questions that help you understand your remote employees' perspectives and how their feedback could improve outcomes for the entire business.
Act on Feedback
Actions speak louder than words. Once you've heard from your employees, make sure to act on their feedback. This doesn't mean you need to incorporate every piece of advice. But you should recognize each contribution and share with your team how you intend to use their input. This type of transparency strengthens trust and encourages future feedback. Employees who feel their companies turn feedback into action well are twice as engaged as those who don't.