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We recently released a game-changing feature in Officevibe that allows managers to reply to feedback they receive.
The employee always remains anonymous, but now a manager can ask for more details while creating a safe place for employees to express themselves.
I thought it would be a good idea to look at some best practices around replying to the feedback that comes in.
The reply is so precious, it gives you so many opportunities, like:
But if you make a mistake with the reply, it can have dramatically unintended consequences. An employee could become even angrier, or you could not get what you were looking for, making the whole process a waste of time.
Employees are also much less likely to give you feedback in the future.
The importance of the reply can’t be overstated. And as simple as it might seem, there are so many subtleties that can make all the difference.
As an example, have you ever heard of the negativity bias?
Our brains are wired to react more strongly to things we perceive as being negative. Even if it’s not actually negative, but we perceive it to be, we’ll react strongly to it.
When it comes to emails, or any text-based communication, we’re more likely to perceive them as negative because there’s no body language or tone of voice to help interpret.
This is why it’s even more important for you to use positive language in your replies. By default, we’re perceiving them as negative (even if they’re not), so you need to go the extra mile to make sure it’s positive.
For the purposes of this blog post, I’ll focus on the reply to feedback feature in Officevibe, but these tips can be applied any time you’re responding to employee feedback.
There are a couple of questions that you’ll likely have when you’re first introduced to the reply to feedback feature.
Let’s go through some of the common ones quickly.
Having said that, I would take some time (even 5 minutes) after reading the feedback before replying. It’s important to think a couple of things through, like:
Empathy is the key here.
Here are a few things you need to understand before responding to feedback. These tips will help put you in the right state of mind for replying.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that the feedback, no matter how harsh it might be, is meant to help you and the company improve.
You should look at it as an opportunity, and be incredibly grateful that someone was willing to take time out of their day to make your job easier.
If you approach the whole experience from an angle of gratitude, you’ll be much better off when replying.
Chances are, the first reaction of what to write back (especially if it’s negative feedback) won’t be the best thing to write.
Take a few minutes after reading it to let it sink in and take time to reflect on it.
It’s important to take a step back and remember why you’re doing this in the first place. When you’re replying to feedback, you’re trying to dig deeper into the root of the problem.
There are two types of questions you can use to discover what you’re looking for.
One of the features that I find people aren’t using as well as they should are the labels.
It’s such a powerful feature that will make managing and organizing the feedback much better.
You can create your own labels based on whatever you feel is important, and use them to assign and prioritize all the feedback.
Then you can filter the feedback based on those labels to only see what’s relevant to you.
Trust me, this feature will make your life a whole lot easier.
As a quick refresher for how Officevibe collects this feedback, we ask contextual follow up questions.
The beauty of this is that our response rate and the quality of the answer are so high because it’s so contextual.
When replying to this feedback that you receive, you should keep two things in mind:
As a simple example, look at the difference between these two pieces of text:
When we read each of the two in our head, we get the feeling that the second piece of text is being said in a much happier tone, just by changing the punctuation.
Another good reason to write with positivity is that people mirror our reactions, so they’ll reply with the same positivity to our message, helping to diffuse a negative situation.
In this next example, look at the difference between these two replies.
Again, the second response seems so much friendlier and inviting. While the first one is succinct and to the point, it’s important to show employees that you empathize and would never want to hurt them.
For these next few examples, I’ll use real questions that we ask in Officevibe, and show you some examples of feedback you might receive.
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