Recently, I spoke with a colleague who expressed how unhappy she is with her manager and some of the executives in the company. After working with this pharmaceutical organization for more than a decade, she is a top performer and compensated well for her work.
However, she is looking for a job elsewhere.
I asked her why she is so unhappy, and she responded:
“Let me share a quick example … we are asked for feedback on how to make the organization better, and how to improve the quality of services we offer to the customers … but our feedback goes nowhere. As a result, customers are continuously upset!”
Feedback that Goes Nowhere
Wait! I’ve worked in companies where the leadership team takes the same approach. For example, employee feedback questionnaires are requested by HR on topics ranging from compensation to working remotely, and the expectation is that changes will be adopted.
Yet … nothing happens!
I remember a workplace situation where the marketing department employees asked the executives to seek advice from them before launching new products. The leaders agreed that input from the marketing folks was important, and they agreed to comply.
You guessed it! When new services were introduced a few months later, the marketing department was mostly left out of the discussion. They were told the market was changing too quickly, and there was not enough time for collaboration.
Without Openness There is no Buy-In
The overarching point I’m making here relates to the culture of the work environment. To create an open and transparent culture, it’s essential for leaders to be engaged with all levels of the organization.
A key point to remember is the frontline employees are often the ones closest to the customers, which means they have direct knowledge regarding the strategies that are working, and those that are falling short.
Therefore, the smart leaders are constantly seeking ideas from these individuals, such as asking the following types of questions:
- “What are the customers saying about our new products?”
- “Do we need to provide additional training to help you excel in your position?”
- “How happy are the customers about the delivery time of the service?”
- “From what you are seeing and hearing from customers, what should we do differently?”
- “What are the main complaints you are hearing from customers?”
- “If you were in my shoes as the CEO of the company, what would you do to improve the quality of our products and services?”
As you can see with the list of questions noted here, the leaders want to know both what is working and what needs to be improved. By improving areas of concern from employee feedback, customer satisfaction also improves.
Here’s an important point: I would rather hear bad news upfront from my employees than wait until the concern is too late to fix. In other words, it’s best to identify a problem before hundreds of customers are upset with the company. Given the rise of social media platforms, bad news travels much faster today than in the past, and it might destroy a brand in short order.
An open culture begins with leaders who are unafraid to hear the truth. Thus, humility is an important value that must be espoused by everyone.
In fact, bad news should be taken as good news. It’s better to have a pulse on how the employees and customers feel about the company than to operate in a manner where the radar is in the off position.