As an employee, not feeling like you have the ability to speak your mind about issues that are important to you can be stressful.

Employees are the ones who are deeply in touch with customer needs as well as problems and opportunities within the company. That's why it's important that leaders create an environment that will elicit open and candid feedback.

Feedback at every level is critical to the success of an organization.

Here are five tips to help you create a transparent and open workspace.

1. Be proactive

Creating a culture of transparency starts from the top down. It may feel unnatural for an employee to actively speak up against people in positions of authority. As a leader, YOU have to be the one to open up the channels and encourage dialogue. Lower the barrier of difficulty by establishing a designated time for honest feedback in weekly meetings, through emails, and especially in one-on-one meetings.

2. Keep asking

Things change and evolve constantly. To understand the pulse of your employees you need to routinely ask for honest and open feedback. Along with being proactive, you have to be persistent in your efforts to get employees to speak up. Develop a consistent routine where employees have a forum for feedback. The more consistency you can create, the more you can create a culture of giving and receiving feedback.

3. Make it anonymous

At Porch we knew that we would need to create a platform for managing feedback once we got to 150 people. To accommodate our needs, we started to use a tool called TinyPulse that allows us anonymously survey employees on a weekly basis. Employees are prompted to answer a basic question about the company, usually voting on a scale of 1-10 to express their sentiment. TinyPulse helps employees candidly speak their mind by letting them vote and giving them a chance to articulate their thoughts and feedback.

4. Foster ownership

To get employees to speak up, you need to let them know that their opinion matters to you and the company. Why bother speaking up if your words fall on deaf ears? Employees need to have a stake in the success and direction of the business, so give them that by creating a culture of accountability. Do this by publicly addressing feedback and explaining the steps taken and who's responsible for implementing solutions.

5. Get out after hours

Sometimes all it takes is simply grabbing lunch or a beer after work to spur an honest opinion from employees. Getting out of the routine office environment shakes things up and builds camaraderie and trust, especially if it's one-to-one. Taking time away from work to fully focus on the needs of an employee proves your commitment to them and their opinions, so make it a priority.

The employees who aren't afraid to speak up and take risks with their bosses are often among the most respected in the office environment. They are the ones willing to put their name on the line to get things done, so help create more of those engaged employees by creating an open and encouraging environment for them to do so.

 

Published on: May 2, 2015