Podcast Episode #25

In today’s issue of Entrepreneur to Employer, our topic is near and dear to me, and it is the fear of delegation. To guide you through the concerns of delegation, I will give you a 3-part framework to push through the fear and start delegating.
Do not be that entrepreneur that lets the fear of delegation hold back your business growth in 2023. Instead, run these three plays, implement a system for delegation and grow your business.

The Fear of Delegation

A difficulty commonly faced by business owners trying to expand and evolve their business is the fear of delegating, the fear of allowing their team to start taking on tasks and responsibilities.

Naturally, there is a sense of insecurity in not personally overseeing an important task, right? What if it does not finished correctly or to your standard? What if it is not the quality work that you expect? As a business owner, that fear of delegation will hold you, your company, and your employees back.

Delegating, when done strategically, can lower your business risk factor. By delegating, you are avoiding burning yourself out and you eliminate yourself as the single point of failure.

Real control in your business comes from both proper risk management, and appropriate control release. So, let’s get into how to change your approach to delegation and start maximizing the performance of your team.

Identify Where to Focus

It is impossible to successfully delegate unless you identify the actions to which your time and focus should be directed to achieve maximum impact.

For most business owners, your highest value is strategic thinking, identifying business opportunities, building partnerships and relationships, developing sales prospects, and specific elements of the operation that support all of it.

It is quite common to realize that essential activities get overlooked, due to their absorption into the less significant, operational aspects. Plainly stated, “working in your business instead of working on your business.”

Tasks like payroll, spreadsheets, and customer service, are things you can start getting off your plate, and you might realize that the person you delegate it to does it better than you. Everything that is outside your core strengths and value contribution gets delegated.

Make a specific list and identify the key activities that require your relentless focus and where you can make the biggest impact to the company, your employees, and your customers.

Focus on three to five key activities, write them down, and anything outside this list you can consider as of lower impact. Lower impact does not mean insignificant, as activities such as bookkeeping, accurate financials, and payroll are important. It does mean that the day-to-day handling of activities outside of your core strengths should be delegated.

Identify the Fear

Vague feelings of discomfort will stop you from moving forward. Identifying and addressing the issue, allows you to break through to the next level. There are three prevalent fears when it comes to delegating.

One common fear is the fear of work not getting completed. Worrying that tasks that you hand off will not be completed, resulting in missed deadlines or displeased customers is a fear that will stop you in your tracks. This fear forces you to continually manage everything.

A second common fear is a fear the work will not meet the required standard. Worrying that deliverables, products, and outputs will not meet your standards will cause you to continue doing everything yourself.

To ensure the quality of the work delivered to you and your customers meets your standards, it is essential to establish proper training and set clear goals and expectations for your employees to meet.

A third common fear of delegating is the fear of inconveniencing others. Worrying that assigning tasks to your employees will burden or overload them and affect your perception as a likable employer.

If you as the business owner continue to be overworked, this only means things will be done ineffectively and hastily. A situation that will not only personally affect you, but will also seriously interfere with your company’s performance, in the form of lower efficiency, displeased clients, and stalled growth. At the end of the day, your employees are there to work and to help you advance your mission toward success, and you should challenge and push them to grow.

Recognize and analyze what your fear or fears are regarding the delegating process. Putting your fears in writing will give you a clear perspective, help you identify them, and develop a plan to work through each fear.

Minimize the Risk

Create a bullet point list of all the perceived risks, take the opportunity to address each issue, and figure out appropriate safeguards and balances to streamline the process.

For example, to oversee the perceived risk of work not getting done, set up a follow-up system for each task, such as a running list, deliverable review meetings, or a project dashboard. Communication is the key to making sure you know the work is getting done without having to do the work.

I maintain a client project dashboard. An Excel file on Google workspace, keeping track of all our clients and major projects, where employees daily update the progress on their respective tasks. This technique enables me to easily keep track of my team’s work and facilitate internal review and communication on progress. This allows me to manage the perceived risk and make sure it does not become an actual risk.

Another perceived risk is the concern of work not getting done to your standard. To manage this perceived risk, the task will require an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) to create a roadmap for the employee to follow. Follow this process –

1. Document the task SOP and be sure to define what an acceptable outcome or work product looks like.

2. Create a training path for the task. The training path can be 1-2-1 training, recorded video snippets, and supporting training documents.

3. Check-Ins: When the task is in the early stages of delegation, schedule regular check-ins to make sure the progress is moving correctly. This ensures that you can help your employee course correct before it’s too late.

The micromanaging of processing and outcomes will decrease as your employees become more familiar with the process of their tasks and quality expectations.

So, what is your best-case outcome from delegating?

Imagine taking an amazing vacation next year because you have a team that can safely and effectively run your business for a week or two.

It is a great feeling when you can take personal time, enjoy life, and enjoy all the demanding work you have put in. And know that you are going to come back to a business that is not only, still there, but doing great.
Summing up, the three steps to overcome your fear of delegation:

Identify Where to Focus
Identify the Fear
Minimize the Risk

3 short lessons that should help you start down the path of delegating and growing your business.

See you next week!

Whenever you are ready, there are three ways I can help you –

1. If you are an entrepreneur looking to build the Best Places to Work Culture, start with an affordable community-based course.

→ Start with our Best Places to Work Operating System for Entrepreneurs course

2. Join the Entrepreneur to Employer community to DIY HR for your company. Get all the HR coaching, collaboration, and HR templates to support your business.

3. Work with the Scaleocity team if you’d like to have us manage all of your HR, Payroll, and HRIS requirements. We will provide you with a dedicated HR Business Partner, Concierge Payroll, and a robust Workforce Hub solution.

Ignore Your Employer Reputation at Your Own Risk

If you operate a business, you know that unless you are intentionally building an enterprise of one, eventually, you will need to start hiring team members to scale. There are a lot of growth-oriented activities that can be outsourced to contractors, but some activities are better suited to bring in-house with your team.

Finding the best people to join your mission is vital to your success.

Without the right people on your team –

    • You may not be able to add more customers
    • You may not be able to properly service the customers you do have
    • Existing team members may leave because the workload is too intense

Let’s introduce you to Oscar. He owns a food packaging business that is approaching $20M in annual sales. His business requires a second Production Manager so the business can start up a second production shift. If Oscar cannot fill this role, he is in jeopardy of losing a seven-figure contract with a big box store.

Oscar’s been recruiting to fill this role for six weeks now and only three people have applied for the role. Oscar’s starting to grumble that “nobody wants to work” and feeling the pressure of knowing he will lose the big box store contract.

What can Oscar do differently to take control of his recruiting?

 Oscar can start by examining his reputation as an employer.

 +Up until now, Oscar has never heard of the term Employer Brand or understood the importance of his reputation as an employer.

Luckily for him, we were able to coach him through a 10-point plan so he could start to take control of his recruitment needs.


The 10 Point Plan 

    • Audit your reputationYou would be surprised what you will find on the internet when you type in your company name and look up your business on Glassdoor, Indeed, and other career sites. While you do not need to know definitively want is being said about your company, the knowledge and information are important to include in your overarching strategic plan to improve your employee reputation.


Oscar was shocked when he searched for his company’s reputation. He discovered that previous employees would not recommend his company for employment.

    • Focus on Alignment – If you have spent the time to build your company around core values, now is the time to make sure these values are more than just words on a wall. If the core values are not living throughout the organization, misalignment is the problem. Top candidates know when a company does not “walk the talk” and they do not want to be associated with those types of companies.
    • 1-2-1’s – Standardizing regularly scheduled 15-minute 1-2-1 conversations with each team member is a powerful way to take control of your employer’s brand (and improve employee experience, culture, and performance). If you have not implemented 1-2-1s yet, we have free training for you. 1-2-1 Training & Templates
    • Act of Feedback – Implementing 1-2-1’s will give you feedback, and hopefully, it will be feedback that you need to hear and not what you want to hear. To keep that feedback flowing, you need to act on that feedback. It is ok if the feedback is not actionable. Communicate back to the source why the feedback is not actionable, so they understand. Failure to do this may end future feedback.
    • Develop Your Employer Value Proposition – Just like your marketing should message your value to the customer, you need to create a message that shows your value, as an employer, to prospective employees. Compensation is especially important but so is professional development, mentoring, strong leadership, and the organization WHY.
    • Create a positive recruitment experience – Recruitment should not take 20 weeks, fourteen interviews, and 9 assessments. Streamline the recruitment process, clearly articulate the process from start to finish with each candidate and give them a decision timeline. A focus on ensuring the experience is positive will pay dividends, ESPECIALLY if you do not hire the candidate.

Providing a positive recruitment experience for those that do not join your company is important because –

    • They may be a future customer
    • They may refer other candidates
    • They may want to join your company in the future
    • Develop a meaningful onboarding process – Onboarding is much more than just having your new hire fill out new hire paperwork. Divide your onboarding process into three pillars –
      1. Administrative onboarding
      2. Cultural onboarding
      3. Technology onboarding
    • Embrace Continuous Improvement – If you do not take control of your employer’s reputation, it will take on a life of its own. Constantly assess your organization’s reputation, both internally and externally, to drive a 1% improvement each day.
    • Employee Ambassadors – Once you get your reputation, employee experience, and culture headed in the right direction, find ways to incentivize your employees to become your hiring ambassadors. Your team can sell the experience of being employed at your company better than you can. This is a great crossroads to get your marketing arm involved to help build the ambassador program
    • Promote & Message – Just like you market and message your product or solution, be prepared to market your Employer’s Brand. Just like marketing the product or solution, you can –
      1. Create a career page on your company website
      2. Promote videos with employees showing the world what a “day in the life” looks like at the company
      3. Set up peer conversations during the recruitment process so that candidates can speak candidly with potential peers.

Revamping your reputation as an employer, but you can make a significant, measurable process in less than 30 days. Oscar was forced to examine his reputation as an employer and embark on a 30-day plan to take control of his Employer Brand. The business now has a top production manager, a second shift, and has successfully expanded its big box store sales.

Oscar is a fictional character, but the framework of his story is based on true life events.


    • Your inability to find top candidates may be because of your reputation as an employer 
    • You cannot scale your business without hiring the right team 
    • Top candidates do not want to work for companies with marginal reputations 
    • Prioritize taking control of your Employer Brand with the 10-point framework 
    • Drive continuous improvement of your reputation

See you again next week. 

Interested in getting a weekly dose of actionable business growth tips? 

Subscribe here – https://bit.ly/3Ss6NSh








A Six-Step Interview Framework to Build Your Dream Team

To begin today’s newsletter, we’ll start with a reflection exercise: regardless of the number of years it has been, consider your last job application process. What was it like? How did the organization make you feel throughout the process? Were they responsive and communicative, or did the process drag on incessantly? Assuming you were selected for an interview, did you feel the employer understood your value at the end of the process?

Too often, the answer to these questions is not what you’d hope for.  Candidates are left wondering about their application status, not communicated with, and if they’re interviewed, may not feel satisfied with the information that was requested following the process. Two or three years ago, we may have felt the need to explain why it was important to have a proven interview strategy designed to identify individuals that will stick with your team. Now, it seems to be stating the obvious.

With remote jobs still continuing to expand and job-seekers enjoying a global market of job openings to choose from, employers need to be better recruiters than ever to hire and retain top talent. Plus, according to the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), the average cost per hire is $4,700 – though some employers estimate 3-4x a position’s salary.

No matter what the cost, it is money most organizations don’t want to spend more often than they have to – especially given the additional cost of unfilled positions.

Today we’ll cover a proven process to ensure you’re well-set for your next search by discussing both what you need to include in your interviews, and the tools you should have in place to ensure your overall interview process goes well.

First, we’ll detail a framework for the actual interview. There are six sections to an interview that should never be skipped.

Interview Component One: The Introduction

While it may seem obvious that the introduction is the first step to an interview, it is important to adequately prepare for it and consider it of equal importance to the remainder of the process. Be sure you are setting aside time in your interview process to build rapport, allowing time for the candidate to adjust to the environment.

Remember that the candidate is likely nervous. They’re in competition for something very desirable, and know that they’re about to have to answer unknown questions to strangers to try to validate their own worth for the position. While this comes naturally to some, it does not to all – and that does not always mean an individual is not well-suited for your position.

The more comfortable you allow your interviewee to become, the better results you are likely to get – but be sure to not cross personal boundaries that the candidate may regret sharing. Small talk may help a candidate relax, but after a candidate has disclosed personal details about young children or family plans, they may wonder if they were disqualified for personal reasons rather than professional ones. You can’t stop them from volunteering information, but avoid asking these personal questions if possible.


Interview Component Two: Work History

Begin with open-ended questions that allow the candidate to choose the details they want to share with you from their work history. This will accomplish multiple needs:

    1. It will help you learn your candidate’s professional history.
    2. It will help you understand how your candidate prioritizes his or her professional accomplishments, and which results they view as most meaningful and relevant to this position
    3. It will help you gauge the candidate’s communication style without specific guide rails to keep the conversation within.

As the candidate tells you his or her story, be sure you are actively listening! Take notes to ensure you’re prepared to follow up when needed.

Interview Component Three: Competency-Based Interview Questions

Use behavioral interview questions to assess the competencies and skills the candidate will need to be able to use in the position. Start by reviewing your posted job description. What competencies will be necessary to complete the responsibilities completed by the individual hired? Write these down – these are the competencies you need to measure and assess in the interview process.

Then, draft a list of behavioral interview questions designed to measure those specific competencies. A simple Google search should help you find examples for these. Behavioral interview questions require a candidate to answer questions based on past experience, rather than hypothetical answers. For example, if you are hiring an accountant, a competency required may be data analysis. A behavioral interview question to gauge this skill may ask the candidate to tell the interviewer about a time when they had to make a complex decision with many competing priorities, and to explain the data they used to make the decision.

When taking notes on the candidate’s answers, listen for the candidate to provide you information on the situation they were in, the behavior they personally had to employ to navigate the situation, and the impact of their behavior. This will help you to know where to probe for more information if one of these pieces is missing. (Pro tip: Situation-Behavior-Impact is also a well-studied framework for delivering tough feedback!)

Interview Component Four: Understand the Candidate’s Inputs

Next, ask the candidate about their “inputs” – or how they have prepared for this role in particular. This could be a variety of different things, and you can get some clues on where to start from the candidate’s resume and work history responses. For most candidates, their largest inputs will likely be past employment or education. However, candidates may have many ways they feel they have gained experience that is relevant to your posted position that they’d like to share, including life experience, micro-courses or credentials, self-taught skills, etc.

Interview Component Five: Gauge the Candidate’s Attitude

Our last two sections of the interview, attitude and career fit, do certainly have questions that can help you gauge a candidate’s effectiveness. However, they’ll also be areas that you’ll be listening for throughout the full interview process.

For example, you may be able to gauge a candidate’s attitude the moment they walk into the door – both for better and for worse. In most cases, though, it will likely be more nuanced, and you’ll have to do some probing. You may ask questions around how they’ve handled feedback in the past that there was something they needed to work on to see whether they’re the type to persist and improve or hesitate after setbacks.

Interview Component Six: Aligning Career Fit Expectations

Gauging a candidate’s career fit is not as cut and dry as you may think – this does not imply that every candidate needs to aim to be your organization’s next CEO. In fact, you’d probably have serious culture issues if that were the case.

It is perfectly appropriate for your organization to have a blend of high achievers and strong contributors – what is important is ensuring they are well-placed within their roles and across the organization. Before beginning a search, consider the role you are hiring for. Who do you need for this role? Is it a role where you hope to have a rising star who will develop through the ranks of the company, or would it be beneficial to hire a veteran who likely won’t promote, but hopefully can be retained?

Be sure you’ve considered the type of individual you want, so that when you ask a candidate about their 5-year plans, you can make sure it aligns with your own.


Now that we’ve covered the interview itself, we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the challenge that can be associated with the logistics of the interview process. Managing interviews can be a feat, and if your team is not well-organized, you may lose your best candidate due to wasted time or a poor experience. Be sure that you implement tools and processes to help deliver a smooth and efficient process.

Managing the Interview Schedules

Ensuring your schedules are held in advance will help to ensure a better experience both for the candidates and for your evaluation team. Identify your evaluation team early, and explain their roles in the process. Then, as soon as this is complete, hold times on their calendars to accommodate the number of interviews needed. This will make scheduling the interviews much easier, and much less stressful for the interview committee once the times begin to be confirmed.  Having blocks of time held in advance will also help to ensure that your evaluation team is able to be fully committed to the process with distractions eliminated.


Using Templates for Consistent Communication

Use templates for communicating with the candidates when possible – but most importantly, ensure their communication is frequent and transparent. If you are able to use an applicant tracking system, automate messaging where possible to ensure standardized practices are in place from candidate to candidate. If not, ensure there is an individual who is accountable for keeping in touch with each candidate and keeping them updated throughout the process.


Preparing Your Interview Committee

Provide an interview packet to each member of the interview committee to ensure they are all receiving consistent information, across the committee and for each candidate. The template should include each candidate’s resume and cover letter, a copy of the interview questions, and an evaluation sheet.

You can also set your interview committee up for success by scheduling debriefs in advance. At the same time that the interview time blocks are held, hold times for scheduled debriefs with the full evaluation committee, as soon as is practical following the interviews. This will help to ensure you provide the committee with active time to complete any necessary paperwork (handing in interview notes, completing evaluations, etc.), but will also ensure that you’re assessing the candidates as a group while the interviews are still fresh in mind.

With these tools to manage the logistics, and a well-defined interview framework planned in advance, you’ll be well on your way to hiring your dream team

Newsletter: Four Things You Risk When You Can’t Let Go at Work (and How to Do it)

Today’s newsletter starts off with a quick pulse check: how is your mental state at the end of the day? Do you feel accomplished, as though you’ve completed your primary priorities, or is your mind still busy scrambling across the list of things you didn’t quite get to?

In 2007 I went to work for a hi energy founder CEO. This guy was a hard charging, was the epitome of the hustle culture, and expected everyone to work as many hours as he did. The company ramped from $0 to $95 in less than 5 years. What was the problem then you ask?

This founder/CEO, for all his strengths and ability, had one habit that ultimately led to the destruction of his company. This CEO could not let go, allow his team to function and felt the need to be involved in everything. As the company grew to over 300 employees, his inability (whether by choice or sub-consciously), to let go, he could not keep up with everything.

He consistently worked 16 hours a day, never took a vacation, and ultimately started making very bad decisions. As his # 2, I watched all of this unfold and watched the decisions he made turn the company from a profitable, growth oriented company that provided careers for over 300 people, to a shell of a company that eventually folded. One of the hardest parts of my professional career was to close down this company and lay off some very talenetd people that did not deserve this crash landing (this was the pivotal point in my life where I decided to start my own company).

A $95M company down to $0, all due to the inability to let go…..

Leaders today are faced with more pressure than ever. Oftentimes short-staffed, leaders are picking up the responsibilities of others while continuing to ensure the operation moves forward smoothly. The to do list piles on as stress continues to grow.

While adding efficiency into operations to reduce administrative burden and stress is a long-term effort, there is one thing that you can do for immediate impact on your own level of daily stress (and your team’s): find a way to take a step back from minute details that do not require your attention. To put it another way: let go. To many, this may be easier said than done, so before we discuss the critical reasons for why this is important, we’ll discuss a few tips for how to do it.


Letting Go Strategy One: Assess your routine, and delegate

For one week, keep a rough list of your activities. At the end of the week, read through them. Consider a few things:

      • What are you doing that doesn’t add value? Stop doing them.
      • What are you doing that someone on your team could do? Delegate them.

Think through who on your team is interested in promoting. Provide them a stretch assignment to help them develop and prepare for their next role. Be sure to follow up with recognition and feedback. You’ll be streamlining your priorities, and simultaneously building your bench.

Letting Go Strategy Two: Schedule regular status update meetings, and rely on them

Schedule meetings and build in tools to get status updates from your team. Rely on those consistent methods, as they will be your go-to for getting necessary updates for projects and regular operational needs. Remember: you hired a great team! If they need your input on an urgent item, they know how to reach you. Beyond that, allow them to make decisions and run their projects or units as they see fit, and know that you’ll get updates at the regularly scheduled time. No need for in-between check-ins.

Letting Go Strategy Three: Reduce unnecessary approval steps

Certainly, some business transactions or decisions require approval from you or other members of your leadership team. However, take a moment to review your business processes. What approval steps add value? What steps do not?

If you are not truly adding value (identifying mistakes, disapproving decisions, etc.), is your approval necessary? Similarly, if you are identifying mistakes or disapproving decisions, what training opportunities are there to correct the root cause rather than simply approving every transaction? Take the time to think through the full business process and the ideal state of the scenario – consider what it would take to get there, if you aren’t there yet.

Once you’ve taken a step back from some of these day-to-day details, not only will your team feel more empowered, you’ll likely feel more confident in the operations of your business and less inclined to think your involvement is necessary in every aspect of the organization.

For many people, of course, this is a challenging proposition. However, it is truly a critical effort to make for your organization. Both you and your business will sacrifice if you cannot let go – we will cover just four things at risk, though the comprehensive list is much longer.


Risk One: Stunted Team Growth

With a micromanager leader, any team is likely to experience heightened turnover. Especially among higher levels, you’re hiring skilled employees who want to be trusted to make decisions and run an organization. Over a decade ago, Daniel Pink had already popularized the concept of autonomy, mastery and purpose being driving factors of intrinsic motivation. If your leaders don’t have autonomy, and don’t have the ability to continue excelling because you’re in their way, they’re likely going to go elsewhere to find those intrinsic motivating factors. Or, perhaps even worse, they’ll stick around, but with little motivation to truly excel.

Beyond that, if a top-level leader is taking on assignments that others could effectively handle, they are creating both logistical and developmental challenges within their teams:

    1. They are likely creating a bottleneck in workflow, assuming that the leader likely has more on their plate than those at lower levels, and
    2. They are taking away a good developmental opportunity from a different employee, prohibiting their growth.

The more a leader gets unnecessarily involved in minute details and decision making processes, the less ability there is for team cohesion and dynamics to effectively form. The team itself is prevented from truly developing its own culture and process when it has a leader who overengineers workflows and micromanages assignments.

Risk Two: Stunted Personal Growth

In the realm of personal growth for the leader in question, a big dilemma is time. A leader that hasn’t learned to let go – who is micromanaging his or her team and hyper-involved in day-to-day decisions – has overcommitted their time. The time spent on these tasks cannot be spent on other, more fruitful tasks, that would allow the leader to truly grow.

Similarly, a leader may be working all hours of the day and night to complete their to-do list, determined to “make it all work”. However in this case, they are likely to burn out – a surefire way to prevent personal growth. Additionally, the leader may be burning bridges or exhausting resources by micromanaging their team. Instead of gaining allies and a strong network by empowering and supporting their staff, they are sending a message that their staff is not trusted. This eliminates an opportunity for support when working towards the leader’s own personal growth.

Risk Three: Stunted Organizational and Company Growth

As you can see, the risks continue to get larger in scale and gravity as we truly consider the consequences of a leader who cannot let go at work; the effects of each sacrifice compound on one another. The risk of company growth becomes inevitable once we consider the risks already discussed. In an organization with a leader who micromanages and over-involves his or herself in decisions, teams are prevented from growing, and the leader is prevented from growing. Naturally, there will continue to be downstream consequences to the company as a whole.

On a more granular perspective, depending on the role of the leader, the processes implemented by the leader may also prohibit company growth. For example, if the CEO personally is the one failing to let go of the details, there may be overly bureaucratic or regimented systems and processes in place that prevent the company from being nimble and agile. In today’s marketplace, this can have truly grave consequences if the company cannot compete at the necessary pace of change.

Risk Four: Unprotected Mental Health

The hints of mental health implications have already been sprinkled throughout our discussion today – the potential for burnout, the stress a leader might hold at the end of the day – but truly, it is a probable enough, and consequential enough of a risk that it must be mentioned separately.

A leader who involves his or herself in the day-to-day operations beyond what is required is risking their own mental health. At the beginning of this article, we discussed the constant train of work-related thoughts and priorities retained in your brain after leaving work – of course, this can be considered perfectly normal. However – where is the line drawn when it escalates to a problem? Eventually, it may increase to constant pain and fatigue, and burnout. Then, it may lead to anxiety or depression.

Having a balance between work and life, and a clear line of the priorities in each area is critical for protecting your mental health. If you are concerned that you may be putting yourself at risk in this area, it is always a good idea to seek help from a mental health professional.

Letting go is hard. Whether you are a founder or a high-level leader, it is of course true that you are essential to your organization. However, it is also essential to remember that your organization has a team of individuals who are skilled and competent, and can advance your organization without your involvement in every decision.

Take it slow – but be mindful of the importance of this strategic change that is necessary for your organization. Remember that the consequence of not letting go can be drastic – and while it may be a challenging transition, your personal well-being (and that of your team) will be improved in the long run.

Five Ways to Collect Honest Feedback from Employees

Five Ways to Collect Honest Feedback from Employees

Five Ways to Collect Honest Feedback from Employees

Think back to the last time you had a boss, or an organization, that was not receptive to feedback. What signs were there that you were in this situation? Perhaps mistakes were treated as something that should be covered up as quickly as possible. Perhaps when executives came to meetings, they bee-lined to the conference room with no interaction with team members on their path. Perhaps it was standard practice for most leaders to work with their doors closed, and only accept visitors by appointment. These cultural signals send messages to employees that their feedback is not welcomed by leadership.

If you were in this situation, how did it feel? Were you engaged? Did you feel inclined to put in 100% effort in your role, knowing that your organization likely wasn’t concerned about your thoughts about the place you spent so much time? If a project required extra effort outside of your typical core role or working hours, were you likely to give it? The answer to many of these questions may have been no.

On the contrary, think about an organization where you felt valued and respected by its leaders. In this situation, you may be more willing to put in a bit more effort when its called for, given that you know your leaders care about you as a person beyond just your productivity and work output.

This blog is meant to help you as a leader build that second culture – where your team feels comfortable providing honest feedback, using constructive, actionable tools.  These tools can be used standalone, or even better, layered, to allow multiple opportunities for feedback from team members. As these strategies become truly integrated into your culture, your team will come to expect them. And more importantly, as they see you act on the results and make meaningful changes in your organizational culture, your team will feel compelled to continue providing constructive feedback in an open and honest manner.


Tool One: Create a Culture of Positive Feedback

We alluded to this already, but our first “tool” is really the goal of all of our remaining goals, as well: to create a culture of positive feedback. However, if you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you’ll know we’ve discussed this in the past. Previously, we’ve discussed how to boost accountability in the workforce. If you haven’t read the post already, take a look – but we’ll sum it up as well.

In the blog, we discuss six steps to boost accountability:

  1. Get comfortable having tough conversations by learning what good feedback looks like – we provide some examples in the post.
  2. Provide feedback consistently – this gives you an opportunity to follow-up regularly, which should give many opportunities to praise employees for their successes (in addition to fast feedback on opportunities).
  3. Encourage leadership to lead by example by asking for feedback themselves.
  4. Implement peer feedback loops – both through performance review processes, and as a regular part of the culture.
  5. Use 90-day, forward-looking conversations to discuss and plan performance.
  6. Conduct regular check-in conversations.

Once your team is used to the idea of feedback being sought and given regularly, it becomes much more normalized and integrated into the culture.


Tool Two: Use Technology such as Pulse Surveys

Different than more traditional annual employee surveys, pulse surveys are typically short, more frequent surveys delivered to employees to take a “pulse” on the culture in an organization or a particular subset of an organization. Third party vendors can assist with development of a survey and implementing and rolling out a survey across a team. Of course, even with a third party partner, there are still several steps an organization will have to take to prepare.

  1. Determine the audience
  2. Determine the information sought
  3. Determine the appropriate question set to best deliver results
  4. Determine a communication strategy with your team
  5. Deliver the survey
  6. Analyze the results and develop an action plan
  7. Communicate the results and action plan


Tool Three: Ensure Regular Implementation of One on One Meetings

Quick pop quiz: are your leaders all engaging in regular 1:1 meetings with their direct reports? With what frequency?

Chances are, depending on the number of leaders in your organization, you may not know the answer. Without a set policy or best practice around 1:1 or developmental conversations, that is perfectly fair – most leaders wouldn’t be able to speak about such practices organization-wide. However, hopefully you did at least feel confident answering that they are happening on a reasonably consistent basis.

If the frequency is uncertain, or the completion in certain areas is uncertain, it is worth checking in. Check-ins between a supervisor and their direct report are absolutely vital for so many reasons – and in the example of this particular reason, the frequency is of particular importance. If conversations are infrequent, they’re likely to be packed to the brim with agenda items and business needs to discuss. Also, a personal relationship with comfort to disclose information may not be present. One-on-one conversations must be occurring frequently enough that the supervisor has time to check in on how the direct report is doing, and whether there is anything that could be improved. The more frequently this question is asked, the more likely they are to get a genuine response.


Tool Four: Develop Truly Anonymous Feedback Channels

Again – utilize technology to your advantage here. There are plenty of tools to allow employees to submit feedback anonymously. For example, an anonymous email account could be set up that allows employees to submit feedback forms with masked information. Or, free services like Free Suggestion Box allow organizations to request information and receive anonymous results.

The benefit of having an anonymous option – especially to start – is that it allows employees to gain comfort with the process of providing feedback and see the end-to-end process all the way through. Again, this reiterates the importance of follow-through. As your employees provide their anonymous feedback, it will be essential that you analyze the results and create an action plan that is not only used to drive results but communicated back to the employees. This way, the employees see that their feedback was used for something, and they’ll feel much more inclined to continue providing feedback in the future.


Tool Five: Execute Custom Employee Surveys

Of course, the traditional approach in many ways is traditional for a reason – it works. Custom employee surveys take time and effort, but if those resources are available, they do offer a wealth of information about the culture within a team. One critical piece to effectively developing and executing a custom employee survey is ensuring resources are available not only to develop the survey, but to track the participation rate of the survey. Employees will need to be repeatedly communicated with throughout the survey time period to continue to drive participation up to the goal rate. It can be quite challenging to reach a participation goal in lengthy employee surveys but if the goal is reached, there is typically a great pay-off.

Once again, an essential component is following up with an action plan and communication. The more consistently your team can see progress following the survey, the more likely they will be to participate in the future, and in future feedback requests via other tools and strategies.

These five strategies may sound resource-intensive – but remember, you don’t need to do them all at once. While they can be stacked, you can certainly choose the strategy or strategies you think best fit your organization for a first implementation – and then make a plan for additional efforts in the area as you gauge the team response.

While the resources required may be high, the pay-off will be too – and at a time when the need has never been higher.