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Staff feedback: You asked for it, now what?

Asking for staff feedback and then not acting on it can be worse than never asking for it in the first place.

When you ask a team member for their feedback, they appreciate it. It makes them feel valued and heard. It subtly builds them up because it implies, “You matter. What you think, matters.”

But how does a staff member feel if their feedback is not actioned?

They go from feeling like they matter, to feeling like they don’t. In their perception, their feedback has fallen on deaf ears and how they see you as their manager or boss can go from, “You care about me,” to “You’re all talk. You don’t really care about me and my feedback.”

When you ask for feedback, you create an expectation that you will listen, take notice, and seriously consider actioning it.

What if you don’t agree with some staff feedback?

Realistically, you cannot action every piece of feedback. After all, you might not agree with some of it, such as certain suggestions for what the business should implement. There’s a saying, ‘When you eat a fish, eat the flesh and throw out the bones.’ This applies well to the process of considering feedback. Decide which aspects of a piece of feedback are ‘flesh’ (valuable), and which parts are ‘bones’ (to be discarded).

But you know what you can always do, with every single piece of feedback?

Acknowledging staff feedback

You can acknowledge feedback whether you agree with it or not. You can let the staff member know you appreciate them taking the time and effort to express their feedback to you. You can make sure they know that you value their opinion, regardless of whether you always agree.

Why specifics matter when you respond to feedback

Be sure to give your specific response to their feedback. Let them know what you think of the individual aspects of their feedback. This lets them know you took the time to take in and think about their feedback.

Specific feedback is especially important if you didn’t agree with their feedback, or have chosen not to implement it. Vague negative feedback such as, “I don’t agree” or “I don’t like it” without explaining some specifics as to why, does as much harm as providing no feedback at all.

When you acknowledge a person by taking their feedback seriously and responding intelligently and articulately, it shows you truly care about what they think, and that they have influence in their workplace.

The failure to acknowledge and provide your response to staff feedback is one of the quickest ways to ensure team members become disillusioned and disengaged. This decrease in morale negatively shapes your organisation’s culture and, as a result, affects other individuals, overall team performance and business outcomes.

No news is not good news

As a business owner, does this mean you are better off not asking for feedback at all? Would that help to avoid creating expectations and any resulting fallout? Sorry. That’s not a solution because a lack of opportunities to provide feedback is a major contributor to why individuals change jobs. 

There’s a big opportunity cost in not gaining input from your team on a regular basis. You limit yourself and your business’ chance to transform ‘from good to great’. Effective leaders know that they don’t know everything, and so they actively seek—and provide—regular feedback to enhance their ability to lead a successful business.

After all, the people who work in your business often know their own roles and many of your clients better than you do.

8 reasons staff feedback is priceless

When constructive feedback is given or received and then acknowledged, considered and acted on, it creates many benefits including:

  1. Increased engagement by team members who:
    •  Can provide valuable ideas and suggestions for the business
    •  Are motivated to develop themselves
  1. Improved performance by individuals, teams and the overall business
  2. Improved ways of doing things (process enhancement)
  3. New product and service ideas
  4. Increased knowledge and skills as individuals share more, collaborate and also feel empowered to discuss their developmental needs
  5. Better service to your clients
  6. A happier workplace
  7. Increased staff retention

But just as you expect team members to take action based on informal feedback and formal reviews, business owners too must be prepared to take action on feedback received.

Factors in effective feedback

  1. Mutual trust between parties who believe that they want the best for each other
  2. Open and frank discussion based on objective measures and behaviours rather than vague ideas or abstractions
  3. Ability to frame feedback in a way that is constructive, rather than highly critical or personal
  4. Discernment – ability to interpret, choose and apply feedback
  5. Planning – devising strategies and time-framed actions to implement feedback
  6. Clear accountability – knowing who needs to do what and when
  7. Action– doing what is assigned to you
  8. Monitoring and evaluating the outcomes of actions and updating as required
  9. Regular communication throughout as to decisions, actions and outcomes.

Embracing feedback in your business

The art of giving and receiving regular, constructive feedback effectively is a skill that does not come easily to people. When you master it you can truly transform your business and have everyone working together to make themselves and your business greater.

A framework for effective staff feedback

Knowing how to ask for feedback proactively, as well as how to comfortably convey unambiguous feedback requires knowledge to build skills and strong frameworks to support leaders and team members to maximise their competency in this area.

The team at Balanced Scoreboard have tested and refined methods for enhancing team engagement, performance and job satisfaction through feedback to achieve business outcomes.

The Balanced Scoreboard provides a structured framework for recognising, retaining and rewarding team members. This helps business owners transform their good team into a great team so they can keep and develop their most valuable people.

Learning more about Balanced Scoreboard

For more information go to to view or book a demonstration of the Balanced Scoreboard platform. You’ll see how, as a complete team-management system, it will help start—and keep—great feedback flowing in your business.