How do I really listen to and act on employee feedback?

A Brief Case

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 01:39 pm

Robyn Trester-Vaupel

Robyn Trester-Vaupel

President

Trester Hoist & Equipment Inc.

“Three years ago, ‘communication’ was a bad word in our organization. The majority of feedback I received came as a complaint – many times through second and third sources –  usually centered on lack of communication.

“I then implemented quarterly meetings with each employee. The meeting would lead with a question or concern the leadership team had for the upcoming quarter. This would open up the discussion to what concerns or problems the employee was facing: What resources do you need to perform your job better? What concerns do you have for the future of this company and your role? After meeting with each team member, I would compile all the input and categorize it into themes. It became apparent each quarter that certain areas of the business elicited the most concerns.

“At our weekly leadership meeting, we would discuss the ‘issues’ list and address how to solve these. By the time the next quarterly meetings with employees came around, I was able to present what progress we had made or resolutions we had come to on their specific concerns. Any feedback issue left open would be addressed the following quarter.

“A new acquisition (of Metropolitan Crane & Hoist Co. Inc.) last year more than doubled my staff size, so now our quarterly meetings are three times a year. As we continue to address feedback and concerns, the lists are becoming more manageable and the feedback is more constructive.”


Kathleen O’Leary

Kathleen O’Leary

Chief executive officer

Wisconsin State Fair Park

“Effective leaders embrace change while emphasizing continuity. Change is inevitable, but as leaders we also need to preserve the integrity of our organization. Good employees are the backbone of any successful organization; therefore, we must listen to our employees throughout the change process.

“We recently embarked on, as I call it, ‘Change Management Reimagined.’ This was a reorganization effort, with the goal of being more efficient and effective while creating opportunities for empowerment, advancement and opportunity. The process began by pulling together a group of senior level managers and getting their feedback and suggestions. It was an interactive, open forum for expression of ideas. This was just the beginning as it turned into several more sessions, and the employees, not me, ultimately led the meetings.

“Employees could voice opinions in the room with others, individually via email, or anonymously in our ‘idea box.’ All ideas, concerns and suggestions were taken into consideration throughout the change process, and I could not have done it without my employees’ input.

“Moving forward, we have created a model where senior staff meets with their employees bi-weekly, and then with me. At these meetings we not only give updates on what is going on in our respective departments, but also listen to feedback and concerns from each department. While we are in the early stages of this reorganization, I feel it has given all our employees a voice and look forward to it taking Wisconsin State Fair Park to the next level.”


Rachel Schickowski

Rachel Schickowski

Manager, employee engagement

Rockwell Automation Inc.

“We spend a lot of time at work – potentially 90,000 hours over the course of a lifetime. So, it’s important that those hours are spent at a job we enjoy, doing meaningful work, for a company we’re proud to work for that enables us to thrive.

“Here at Rockwell Automation, our company culture depends on employee engagement. Managers and leaders play a key role to foster connections. We have a few ways of doing this at our company. We have ongoing opportunities for dialogue and feedback through meetings, social channels and employee resource groups. These help build trust and ongoing conversation all the time.

“We also have our annual engagement survey (comprised of roughly 29 questions), which provides insight into what employees think. Using employee engagement survey technology, our managers can identify the key drivers of engagement from their survey results and select what to solve with their teams.

“It’s easy to spend too much time in the data. My advice is for managers to take time to process the results, then move on and share insights with your employees. It’s natural to want to fix everything that came back as an opportunity; fight the urge and keep things simple. If you want to make progress that your team will feel, pick one or two areas that matter most to your employees. Have ongoing check-ins with your team about progress. Take visible, data-driven action and keep listening, always.”

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Maredithe Meyer
Maredithe Meyer started as an intern reporter at BizTimes in summer 2015. She currently covers entertainment, sports, tourism and restaurants. In May 2017, she graduated with a journalism degree from Marquette University where she worked as an in-depth projects reporter for the Marquette Wire and Marquette Tribune.