How to Let Employees Evaluate Their Managers

June 16, 2022
How to Let Employees Evaluate Their Managers

Companies thrive when employees can give and receive constructive feedback. Many organizations spend countless hours and dollars to create a culture that embraces employee feedback. Unfortunately, the most crucial input is probably missing: employees offering feedback to their managers. Thankfully, you can use strategies to improve manager performance appraisal at your company. Better boss feedback starts with employees conducting performance evaluations for managers.

Why employee feedback matters

Eighty-two percent of the employees they surveyed shared that they would consider leaving a job due to a bad manager.

Most employees know that managers have a significant impact on their job satisfaction. According to a recent report from GoodHire, managers have an enormous effect on employee retention. Eighty-two percent of the employees they surveyed shared that they would consider leaving a job due to a bad manager. Employee feedback helps your organization spot potential trouble before it happens. When employees share manager feedback, you can help managers lead better and keep employees happier.

What managers need to hear from employees

Before we get into specifics of how to get employees involved, let's consider what kind of feedback you should be looking for. Here are a few things you should help employees to share early and often.

Training and onboarding feedback

When an employee first joins a company, training and onboarding are essential. Employees need to feel like they are getting the best experience and knowledge sharing possible. If something's missing, managers need to know so they can support new hires. It's essential to encourage new hires to speak up and communicate their needs. Does a concept fly over their heads? Are they missing access to an important piece of software? Encouraging employees to advocate for their needs early creates an environment where speaking up is accepted at work.

Workload and burnout issues

Burnout is a complex work problem. There will always be times when workloads get heavy, but that shouldn't lead to burnout. Burnout for non-managerial workers sat at 27% in 2021. Managers can certainly relate because their burnout numbers skyrocketed from 28% in 2020 to 35% in 2021. One of the best ways to deal with burnout is by acknowledging and taking steps to fix it. Managers dealing with their own burnout may not have the energy to see how their team is struggling. When offering employee feedback to managers, it's important to give them a chance to share how they really feel about their workload.

Employee satisfaction

It's no secret how important employee satisfaction can be. Companies understand that happy employees stay at companies and improve retention. Especially while The Great Resignation continues to have an impact at work, companies need to know how happy or unhappy their employees are. Are there any managers who have teams with low satisfaction levels? With this feedback, managers can make helpful adjustments to improve their departments.

Working with team members

Every manager has a unique leadership style, and every style might not work for every employee. Managers need to understand how their style might impact their workers. If employees feel comfortable sharing, letting managers know how to work with them will make life easier. For example, maybe you have an extroverted manager paired with an introverted employee. Working across those personality types might feel challenging initially, especially if the employee isn't vocal about what they need. Encourage that employee to share with a manager during a one-on-one or a manager evaluation. From there, you can address how to better work across different personality types.

How to get employees involved in manager evaluations

Now that you understand what feedback managers might get from employees, how do you get employees involved? Working with any manager (bad or good) and sharing feedback with them can be stressful. Employees may just want to go to work and do their job without providing in-depth feedback. If you're going to get employees engaged in the process, you have to offer anonymity and let them know you'll have their back. Here's what that looks like in action.

1. Use an anonymous feedback platform

When creating employee assessments, start by using a platform that anonymizes employee feedback. Whatever your needs as an organization, you want a platform that allows employees to be as honest as possible. Anonymity can empower people to say hurtful things, but it can also encourage people to tell the truth. Some feedback platforms ensure that feedback is anonymous to the receiver while allowing the organization to see names. Your organization needs to decide the level of anonymity that's appropriate for you.

2. Summarize key information

If you've ever seen direct comments on an anonymous survey, you know how easy it is to trace comments to people. Managers see how employees write and share feedback every day. There is a chance that a manager could quickly know who said what if they lead a small team. Instead of sharing direct comments, summarize the key points. Make sure you strip any critical identifying information about people, places, times, and events. Employees will be better protected if you remove direct comments from any manager evaluation.

3. Encourage employees to report any negative consequences

56% of all discrimination charges filed with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in fiscal year 2021 were for retaliation.

Unfortunately, retaliation against negative feedback isn't uncommon. In fact, 56% of all discrimination charges filed with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in fiscal year 2021 were for retaliation. So, any opportunity for employees to give managers feedback should be supported with proper protection.

You can do all you can to avoid managers finding out who said what, but it doesn't always work. Encourage employees to reach out to another manager or executive if they get backlash based on their feedback.

It's important to let staff members know that your HR department is ready to support all employees. To improve the likelihood of reports, you can also create a space online or in your office for anonymous reports.

4. Take action to protect employees from negative consequences

When you investigate reports, take every precaution to protect those involved. You don't want to harm employees further. It may even be necessary to temporarily suspend the manager from their duties while you investigate. Once you've completed an investigation, you need to be prepared to act. What does your organization do to managers who threaten or harm their subordinates? The manager-employee relationship requires balance and professionalism. Your organization needs to be ready to reprimand, suspend, or fire a manager who misbehaves.

Employee feedback should matter to every manager

Great managers are constantly vying to become better managers. Employee feedback allows managers to support their team members, become better leaders, and build a trusting environment at work. Unfortunately, not all managers will be able to understand and value feedback. Companies must help managers value employee input while keeping every team member safe.

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