How to Give Effective Feedback on an Employee Engagement Survey:

10 Tips to Improve Performance and Morale with Candid Communication

It’s that time of year again. Many organizations conduct engagement surveys in the fall and near the end of the year. Giving feedback to your organization can be uncomfortable, for both the giver and the organization. In an employee engagement survey process, candid feedback is the single most powerful tool to help an organization, and its management, improve. You’ve been asked to fill out the survey because you have a point of view that is valid and valuable. This is an opportunity to help your organization grow.

But employees often fall into one of two categories: hold back because they believe, ‘what’s the point’, or dump every complaint, misdeed, and grumble.

Neither extreme is effective. Participating in a survey process gives you the unique opportunity to reflect on the things that motivate you as an employee and how the contributions you make matter in an organization. Feedback is a critical piece of implementing new and improved processes, employee education development, and any number of things that an organization needs to re-think and refine. This is your opportunity to find solutions for problems you see in the organization.

But how?

Here are 10 tips on how to give effective feedback, understanding this can be uncomfortable for everyone.

1. Be fair and candid. If you’re hesitant to provide negative observations, the relationship you have with your organization and/or manager won’t improve.
2. Speaking of the negative, don’t drown in it. If things are “that bad,” recognize the problems and move toward positive actions and behaviors that managers, senior leaders, and the organization can take to improve the organization and employee engagement.
3. Keep things concise. Make your key points, both positive and negative, in a succinct, straightforward manner.
4. Back up information with facts, illustrating your key points (without writing a whole book about it).
5. Focus on what can improve. There will always be barriers to growth that cause grumbles – ones that even the best manager can’t hurdle. That said, the whole point of feedback is professional and organizational development. Emphasize what actions, behaviors, and processes are changeable.
6. In terms of the organization, make observations on the what and how of the job, the workplace, the process.
7. When it comes to making observations about senior leaders and managers, discuss actions and behaviors of colleagues and managers. Separate the personal from the professional.
8. Anonymity is important, as is honesty. How you respond to the questions is nobody’s business but your own. Avoid office gossip because negativity breeds negativity. Give the organization and your organization leaders the chance to respond to the survey results.
9. Be an active part of finding solutions, to create action plans together. Feedback can be incredibly overwhelming. When responding to the survey, provide tips on how to address challenges and how your team, management, and organization can improve.
10. Above all, be kind.

The goal of an employee engagement survey is to help the organization and its leaders improve. This improves the jobs and work for everybody. This can only be effective if survey responses are thoughtful, candid, and given from the position to help growth and improvement. Feedback is not a dump session about everything going wrong in the organization. Be mindful of the opportunity you’ve been presented with – one to help an organization and its leaders improve.

This can’t happen without candid feedback given with a solution-centered mindset.

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