Productivity is enhanced and empowerment achieved when leaders solicit, then act upon employee feedback, ideas and concepts. Soliciting and acting upon feedback is the essence of leadership. The proper use of feedback allows leaders to build consensus among their employees and give them ownership of the ideas and concepts to be implemented within the organization.
There are critical differences between managers and leaders. Managers tend to direct and control without soliciting feedback and building employee consensus.
Leaders, on the other hand, build their strength from group consensus, acting as facilitator rather than controller. They understand the power and synergy of combining ideas and working together to achieve mutual goals.
The more involvement leaders seek from their employees, the easier it will be to implement new ideas, resolve nagging problems, minimize conflict and move the organization forward.
Leaders will find the more proficient they are in working with their employees and soliciting their input, the smoother things will run as many problems and headaches experienced in the past are eliminated.
The ideas and concepts created by employees during the feedback process can be easily implemented using the following techniques either in a group setting or individually.
The feedback process begins with the initiation of a dialogue between the leader and employee(s). This should include a clear and concise presentation of the problem or circumstance being addressed.
Whenever possible, a presentation of background material, including any and all supporting facts, should be included in order to afford employees a complete overview of the situation.
Research has shown that by providing employees with the complete information concerning a specific problem, they are more responsive, feel more involved and in the decision making process, and are more productive when the ideas are implemented.
Once the dialogue has been initiated and the facts presented to the employees, the leader should solicit feedback from them and open the floor to discussion.
Respectfully Accept All Feedback
All ideas and feedback should be respectfully accepted and considered. One individual should be assigned to write the ideas down on a whiteboard or large sheet of paper for the group to see.
The leader should make sure no derogatory remarks are made as an individual presents an idea or gives their feedback. A failure to do so will further limit contributions from more reluctant members of the group. Leaders should solicit feedback from each individual in their group, even if they have to ask for it.
Group Similar Ideas & Concepts
Together with the members of the group, the leader should brainstorm to combine ideas and concepts. Often individuals communicate the same idea or concept, but in different ways.
The leader should facilitate the discussion and direct the grouping and combination of related ideas and concepts. They should make sure that the entire group agrees and is in consensus when performing these tasks.
Build on Ideas and Concepts
Once ideas and concepts have been combined, the leader should facilitate additional feedback and brainstorm ways to build and expand upon them. Leaders should make sure that all members of the group are involved and that their additional feedback is solicited. As new points are added and expanded upon, the group should always reach consensus before moving forward.
After adequate discussion has been concluded and the group has run out of new ideas, a consensus should be reached regarding prioritization of the refined ideas/concepts.
The basis for prioritizing each of the ideas should be that which best meets the criteria for resolving the problem or situation presented at the beginning of the discussion.
Every organization has a limited amount of human, financial and physical resources. Leaders will find that the group will typically develop a number of ideas; however, available resources make it impossible to implement each of them. Therefore the group must determine which ideas are feasible under current organizational constraints. Remaining ideas can be tabled for further discussion when additional resources become available or after the initial ideas have been implemented.
Formulate a Plan
Once the final ideas have been selected, then under the leader’s direction the group should formulate a plan to implement them. A specific goal, timeline as well as individual responsibilities are assigned for every aspect of the plan. Additionally, a reporting and measurement mechanism should be included for overall accountability for the plan’s implementation.
Excerpt: Improving Communication in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011)