Want Honest Feedback From Your Employees? Ask Them This

January 21, 2019

Here's a question that'll get feedback as a manager.

Having an adaptive mindset is one of the skills companies need most of 2019 – companies are looking for people who can adapt to all the change that persists in the world today.

I think, intuitively, that makes a lot of sense. But many people think of an adaptive mindset more as thinking of new ideas and rethinking old processes.

That’s part of it. But it also applies to people management – because, to be a great manager of people today, you need to be constantly adapting to them. A big part of being adaptive is getting honest feedback from your employees you can adapt too.

Easier said than done.

That’s where this post comes into play. In her LinkedIn Learning course Developing Adaptability as a Manager, Instructor Dorie Clark suggested managers ask this question to each of their employees, one-on-one, to get honest, actionable feedback from them:

“How can I be a better manager to you?”

LinkedIn Learning Instructor Dorie Clark explains a great question for managers to ask their employees to get feedback.

Why This Question Elicits Honest Feedback From Employees

As a manager, you need feedback from your employees, so you can adapt to it. Yet employees are often reluctant to give you that feedback – they don’t want to criticize you, as you do have a lot of power over them. Like, if they keep their job, how much they get paid, if they get a promotion, etc.

So, if you just ask for general feedback, there’s a good chance you won’t get a lot. You need to create a space where they feel comfortable telling you how they really feel.

The question accomplishes that. Because it’s not about criticizing, but empowering – it’s about you, the manager, catering to their specific needs.

“It shows your employee that you care what they think,” Clark said in her course. “Most managers never bother to ask, so that already sets you apart.”

The answer can help you tailor your managing style to them. For example, maybe they want feedback early and often, maybe they crave autonomy, maybe they prefer phone calls to emails.

Of course, for this to work, you need to actually incorporate the feedback they give you (or, if you can’t, explain why). And, it's important to ask it more than once, so you can continue to improve.

There are other ways to get feedback too – anonymous surveys, talking to people you trust, reading the room. This question isn't the end-all, be-all – it's just another tool to getting to the truth. 

Bottom line, a one-size-fits-all management style has never worked and it’s become even less effective in today’s rapidly changing world. Instead, the path forward is to adapt your approach to each employee, which requires feedback on their end.

This question can help. 

Are you looking to become a more adaptive thinker, one of the skills companies need most? Check out this LinkedIn Learning courses – and they are free until Jan. 31: