Seeking Employee Feedback

Why do companies avoid seeking employee feedback?  What has changed in the past 20 years that make annual “Employee Opinion Surveys” a thing of the past.  Several HR Managers have told me that the social online environments have taken over the tasks and offer people to freely comment about any company as an employee and as a customer.  This may be true, but do you really want all your dirty laundry airing for all the world to read?

Another HR Manager I know runs an annual Employee Opinion Survey and takes the feedback to management, and it is shared in time for annual strategic planning. (Don’t you just love this?)  She said that this annual outlet for feedback continues to minimize the open source feedback because employees are given the chance to vent in an environment they believe will be read and acted upon.

Another company that does not seek employee feedback has a ton of it online.  Anyone looking to work for this company need only go to a few key websites and learn the horrors of working there, and yet they wonder why recruitment is so rough.  Hello?

In this digital age, and employees feeling free to type their opinions on any subject, it is no wonder these employment websites have taken on a life of their own.  Yet I see the danger that these comments are now public knowledge, where an internal Employee Opinion Survey remains confidential.

Seeking employee feedback yields information that could afford you the chance to put out a smoldering issue before it becomes a forest fire.  It allows you to understand issues, and determine how widespread the problem is.  20 years ago there was no other outlet for employees to vent besides the internal survey.  Today if you don’t offer that channel, you force them to expose your operations to the world.

Keeping Company Secrets Hidden

I’m old enough to remember when it was difficult to find out much about a company and their deep, dark secrets much before you started to work for them.  So well hidden in the closets of the company they were never discussed during interviews, let alone would the competition ever find out about some of the of things we are up to.  And before we go any further, I’m not talking about trade secrets, no, I am talking about the working climate and real culture of the company.  Things internal people don’t want to admit are happening.

Today, thanks to online communities and the freedom to post anonymously, former and even current employees can share what it really is like working for a given organization.  I stumbled upon a website called that invites pro and con comments from employees from their perspective, and even a space for suggestions to senior management.  Looking at 30+ comments about a company I am consulting with, I was floored to learn about several issues that are really serious challenges to their operations.  I am now trying to formulate a way to bring up these issues in a way that respects the possibility that they are completely unaware of the grievances.  None of these issues have anything to do with the current consulting work either.

Although my contact at this organization happens to be the HR Director, I would strongly encourage all employees to read up on what is happening in their company.  Truth or lies aside, these are comments that the world can access and form opinions about.  If you are treating your employees unfairly it may turn away future business, and if the quality of your product is in doubt because of what is said, can you hope to sway more customers to buy?  And if you are having trouble recruiting, this may be the reason why.

While websites like and are designed as sites to assist job seekers, they are also a source of learning some of the deep, dark secrets within your own walls.  What does it say when 50 comments are showing an overall approval rating of 22% for the CEO?  What does it say when employees talk about regular harassment, sweat shop conditions and greedy management?

Maybe not the best news, but at least you now have the ability to go fix things!

Remembering Time Management Training

If I had to attach any moment in my life were I think I made a difference on a regular basis to human achievement, it would be those days when I was facilitating a Franklin Covey Time Management workshop.  I could count on several people leaving the room committed to changing their way of working to not only improve their personal and workplace life, but those around them.

Although time management training emphasizes the benefits of personal productivity because of planning and prioritizing, it only works for people who actually want to be more productive.  Hang on that last sentence with me a moment longer.  They actually want to be more productive and thus they are eager to learn ways to be more productive.  Many that attended those workshops were there to learn a few tips and tricks, but the idea of getting more done in less time so they had time to work on more things was just not motivating to them.

As I write this blog today, I am waiting for someone who wanted to meet locally to talk about a challenge they are dealing with and thought I could help them.  I blocked the time on my calendar and the waiting part of this is simply find out where they want to meet.  The time was blocked two days ago, and she would get back to me with a location.  Early this morning I reached out to find out the location, and with 90 minutes to go I have yet to hear from her.  Not only is this person not managing their time well, they are affecting my time and productivity today.

When you don’t finish a task on time, return a phone call, or answer an email or text, you are clogging up the production line.  We are all part of a community that interacts with other people and their schedule.  When our productivity is off, so is that of the people depending on us to do our job.

I remember in those workshops that we talked through a common excuse people use for not getting things done, and that was “I didn’t have time.”  I used to suggest that the next time someone wanted to meet for lunch, that instead of lying that they didn’t have time they tell the truth.  You see we all have the same amount of time allotted to us each day, it is all about our choices for how we use it.  So, be honest, and say, “I’m sorry I can’t go to lunch with you because I have something else I would rather do with my time.” 

Well, as honest as this is, depending on who you are talking to it may also be career or relationship limiting.  So although you may never actually say these words, you need to remember that everyone has the same amount of time each day.  When you are respectful of other people’s time, it opens the door for them to be respectful of your time too.

The Art of Negotiation

checkersThe first rule of negotiation is that everyone needs to win something and lose something.  If one party wants everything their way or they “hit the highway”, then they are not negotiating, they are dictating.  When one side continues to change their position, giving up a little more “win” and adding more “lose” the other side needs to acknowledge the effort by doing the same thing.  Eventually both sides meet close to the middle.

Yet if one side is frozen on their way and not willing to give up anything, they have zero credible claim to be negotiating at all.  In fact, no matter how right their position may be, the problem will never be resolved because they are unwilling to offer alternatives.

As I watch our elected leaders this week debate a spending resolution, I watch one party reducing their position over and over to strike a deal.  Never is the first offer on the table going to be a favorite of the other side, but it is the starting point.  The place that you back down from as you move toward the other point of view.  The other party is glued to their seats and want it their way and will accept nothing less.  We now have a government shutdown, and the side stuck to their all or nothing position has the audacity to blame the party negotiating as being at fault.

Can you imagine playing a game of checkers where only one color gets to move their pieces around the board?  Not only does no one win, nothing gets done!