How to get employee feedback: 5 methods for managers

Written by: Nora St-Aubin | Edited by: Jasmine Papillon-Smith | Illustrated by: Max Prevo
Updated on: Published on: January 29, 2021 |  Reading time: 7m

Collecting employee feedback is a key part of maintaining your team’s health and improving in your role as a manager. Whether it’s negative feedback or positive feedback, effective feedback channels make it easier to keep up with the fluctuations in what’s enabling or blocking your team’s success. From there, you can offer your support and give positive feedback where it counts. This is what distinguishes a good leader from a great one—being open and adaptive to the needs of your team, and making employee satisfaction a priority.

So, how do you get employee feedback? There are several avenues for soliciting employee feedback, and each one provides different benefits for different situations. Keep reading to discover 5 ways you can collect feedback from your team, and when to use each one.

A feedback-positive culture

Before you start collecting employee feedback, it’s important to create the kind of environment where people feel safe to be candid. This means being open to receive feedback, and demonstrating that employee opinions are valued.

How to build a feedback-positive culture

  • Tell people their opinions matter: You built your team of bright minds because you believe in them. Tell employees that sharing their ideas, questions, and perspectives contributes to their collective success. Encourage them to exchange feedback among themselves and build on each other’s suggestions.
  • Practice being open and curious: Negative feedback or constructive criticism can feel like an attack. If you notice your defenses rising up, ask a question or repeat what you’ve heard back to the other person. When people elaborate on their feedback, you both understand better what it means and what to do with it.
  • Turn insights into action, and give credit: Find ways to implement the feedback you receive, big or small, and brainstorm with employees how you can apply it in your team’s functioning. Thank your team for their feedback, and give employee recognition for the work they put into developing solutions.

How you solicit feedback—and how you receive it—sets the tone for your team. Lead by example and make exchanging ideas a positive, collaborative way to improve team dynamics and employee experience. This will amplify both the quality of the feedback you receive, and how you apply it.

Employee feedback surveys

Pulse Surveys are one of the best ways to maintain a high-level view of what your team needs and feels in real time. They let you spot fluctuations quickly. Especially on remote or distributed teams, feedback practices can be tricky and managers risk losing touch with their team.

Keeping a pulse on how people feel with a weekly or bi-weekly employee feedback survey helps you stay connected with your team members by discovering issues before they lead to turnover.

85% of employees who use Officevibe Pulse Surveys feel their direct manager cares about their well-being.

Officevibe Pulse Survey data

How do Pulse Surveys work? Employees respond to fewer questions, more frequently than with more antiquated models like annual or even quarterly employee feedback surveys. This not only lightens the burden for your team members, it also provides you with more accurate data by collecting it regularly, rather than just one or a few days a year when employees may not be at their best.

It then puts the data into a simple, digestible report, so you can take action when issues arise, and show your team you’re taking their feedback to heart.

Officevibe pulse survey about Relationship with peers metric
A Pulse Survey question in Officevibe

When to use Pulse Surveys:
On an ongoing basis. A key benefit of pulse survey softwares is their consistency, which allows you to track trends on 10 metrics and 26 sub-metrics of employee engagement, like recognition, wellness, or manager-employee relationships. Pulse Surveys are an excellent way to solicit regular employee feedback, and implement meaningful changes in real-time.

Officevibe 10 key metrics
Officevibe’s metrics of engagement

Regular one-on-one meetings

Just as important as keeping a pulse, is connecting individually with each member of your team on a regular basis. One-on-one meetings are an excellent moment both for giving feedback and collecting feedback from employees, to build up the feedback culture on your team.

A question as simple as “what can I do to help you this week?” reveals insights that help you better support your team. And when people are comfortable to share their feedback with you directly, there are fewer surprises and you’re better equipped to make adjustments when necessary.

Officevibe’s one-on-one software makes building collaborative agendas simple, so you and your direct report can both add talking points ahead of your meeting. This lets you both bring up what’s on your mind, while allowing your employee to come to the meeting prepared.

If you’re not sure what questions to ask during one-on-ones, you can always select from conversation prompts available in the platform, or check out your list of notes and Action Items to follow up on what you discussed last time.

Officevibe collaborative agenda, example questions about how to collect employee feedback
Setting up a 1-on-1 agenda in Officevibe

When to have one-on-one meetings:
At regular intervals. Whether that means weekly or monthly will depend on your team’s context. The important thing is that you have a recurring one-on-one meeting with every team member when you can exchange feedback. Be fully present during these conversations, set clear action items, and follow up in your next scheduled meeting.

An option for anonymous feedback

Many of us are now in a digital-first workforce where casual hallway chats and coffee catch-ups have all but disappeared. An anonymous feedback channel provides employees with a safe space to share their honest thoughts, questions, and ideas directly with their manager. Even on teams with strong foundations of psychological safety, the option for anonymity actually nurtures that basis of trust. Receiving anonymous feedback opens up conversations that might not otherwise happen between employees and managers.

Don’t stop short at collecting anonymous feedback—let employees know that they are heard, and turn it into a discussion. Share how you plan to take action on their feedback whenever possible. With Officevibe’s anonymous employee feedback software, a secure chat is created each time feedback is submitted. This way employees can have a two-way conversation with their manager while maintaining anonymity. Officevibe creates a direct line for anonymous upward feedback, and the usage speaks for itself: in one year, employees submitted 2.1 million anonymous feedback messages to their managers using Officevibe.

In one year, employees submitted 2.1 million anonymous feedback messages to managers using Officevibe.

Officevibe employee feedback software

When to use anonymous feedback:
Any time. The option for anonymity should always be available so employees know that they can ask any question or raise any concern without having to identify themselves. It could be to address a sensitive subject, offer constructive feedback, or simply share an idea. Being able to do so anonymously can give employees the confidence to speak up.

conversation between employee and manager soliciting feedback
Responding to anonymous employee feedback in Officevibe

You can see many more examples of employee feedback here.

Custom employee feedback surveys

A customized employee survey gets you the specific, instant feedback you need to understand your team’s feelings around a particular topic. Anonymity remains important with custom feedback surveys. These surveys can touch on personal or sensitive subjects, team dynamics, business decisions, or contentious issues. Making it safer for employees to share their honest feedback with anonymous employee surveys paints a more accurate picture of the tensions and concerns that exist on your team.

It’s important to know how your team reacts to big events, like changes in strategy, staff turnover, or restructuring. Similarly, it’s important to have a starting point when you want to bring up issues like diversity & inclusion or your people’s happiness with remote work. That’s where Officevibe’s Custom Polls come in. You can create your own or select from dozens of expert-built templates while your employees maintain their anonymity. The data is then compiled for you directly in Officevibe.

When to use a custom employee survey:
Addressing changes, events, or other specific topics. If your team just had a big win, you can better understand what drove their success. If they’re facing a challenge, you can uncover any uncertainties or concerns.

Whether you use one, all, or a combination of these methods to collect employee feedback, the most important thing is that your team members feel heard. Soliciting employee feedback shows that you care, and contributes to the ongoing development of your team. And this is what distinguishes a good team from a great one.