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CEOs: How and Why to Seek Feedback from Your Work-Staff

Since the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a company is the highest level executive manager in an organization, it is often thought that he or she would not have any of the same concerns that rank and file employees would often have.  After all, the CEO is responsible for the entire company, and holds ultimate influence over the success of the whole corporation; therefore it is not typically assumed that he or she would need to seek approval from those below C-level within the organization.

CEOs Seeking Feedback - business man standing in front of staff

As the leader of an organization, a CEO clearly holds a powerful position. Yet despite that power, it is actually quite important that a leader on any level can empathize with, and seek feedback from his or her team.

Why should CEOs seek employee feedback?

When a CEO expresses his or her desire to receive legitimate feedback, it is implied that the opinions of the company’s subordinates are not only valued, but taken seriously. This helps show employees that they are a significant part of a team instead of just one of hundreds or thousands of people working for the same boss. As a result, they may demonstrate greater pride in their work output and strive to meet, or even surpass, their superiors’ expectations.

There is also the possibility you might discover an unrealized perspective.  When we are consumed with leading, we can sometimes overlook what it feels like to be on the other side of the boardroom door.  What better way to become a better leader, than by considering genuine feedback from the very same staff who works for you each and every day?

It is crucial, however, to elicit honest and useful information from employees, and this may not always be easy.

How can CEOs gather accurate feedback?

The most recommended method for gaining employee feedback is by conducting a full-scale employee survey. These surveys should be provided once a year. Doing surveys too often could cause employees to lose interest in participating.

When conducting a survey, CEOs must take specific steps to ensure that employees will provide candid and truthful feedback:

  • Keep survey short and easy to complete.  No one wants to answer long questionnaires, especially on top of a busy work schedule; so remaining succinct is important to ensure accurate viewpoints of your employees.
  • Ask open-ended and closed-ended questions.  While necessary to achieve a comprehensive level of feedback, open-ended questions (i.e.,” What are the strengths of our organization?”) will help generate qualitative data that can be difficult to analyze. Conversely, closed-ended questions (i.e., “How often do you feel you are micro-managed by your Supervisor?”) will help you examine data more efficiently and notice patterns within employees’ answers, resulting in an easier analysis of the data.  Nevertheless, it’s important to include both types within your survey to ensure accuracy.
  • Share survey results as soon as possible.  Sharing the survey results with your staff within a reasonably short amount of time will develop trust. Perhaps you are delaying due to some negative feedback you received.  Yet sharing the good as well as the bad will promote honesty among your staff, and reveal your own integrity as a leader.
  • Provide immediate feedback.  It is important for employees to know that they have a voice in the company. It is equally important to provide immediate feedback on what they say.
  • Provide anonymity.  This is also yet another way to ensure you are receiving direct answers from your staff.  Employees need to be assured that their responses to the survey will remain anonymous and their feedback will not be held against them in any way.
  • Include all employees in the feedback process.  No employee should be exempt based on their rank within the organization.  Full participation in the survey will help foster a team mindset. This will also prove that you value everyone’s opinions regardless of their position in the company, as well as provide you with the most accurate results.

CEOs Seeking Feedback - survey checkbox

To conclude

Conducting a response survey according to these simple guidelines will help increase the quality of feedback you receive from your staff. It will also help improve employee retention by showing that your organization values the opinions of its team members.

However, before soliciting feedback from employees, the CEO must remember that he or she is also the chief role model. It’s therefore imperative that a leader maintain an exemplary standing, and realize that all plans, decisions, and actions should always be in the best interest of the entire organization.

By Fred Coon, CEO


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