Most people don’t like to complain at work.
No. Wait. That’s not right. Most people don’t want to get caught complaining or be known as complainers. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop us from having grievances about our workload or our bosses or our company’s policies - but it may prevent us from giving our employers valuable feedback.
Have you seen the TV show Undercover Boss? The premise is basically that top level executives at large companies go “undercover” as entry level workers within their own companies. The goal is to get a better idea of how the company is really running. Hilarity and heartwarming revelations ensue.
While it’s interesting to watch CEOs don the uniforms of fast food workers and struggle with simple tasks like emptying large garbage dumpsters, I believe the more important message demonstrated is that most people who run businesses are genuinely interested in making those businesses run better. Of course, it also makes me think that these executives could learn a lot about their companies if they’d simply take the time to ask their employees for feedback. The take away I get from this show is that our feedback as employees is valuable.
As employees, we may hesitate to give feedback because we assume that if our bosses aren’t asking for our opinions, it’s because they aren’t interested. Maybe we’re afraid that offering unsolicited input will be seen as idle complaining. Unfortunately, the information we often withhold from our employers may simply be things they don’t even know they don’t know.
My husband and I were chatting the other day about “upgrades” done to the database program he uses daily at work. As indicated by my use of quotation marks, he was frustrated that changes meant to be improvements were actually making his job more difficult. After listening to him grumble for a few minutes (I am, after all, his wife and not his boss), I asked if there was anything specific that could be done to fix his problem and whether or not he thought upper management would be receptive to hearing about it. He started making a list of specific things he thought could be tweaked and making a note of how these changes would make his office run more efficiently. How those suggestions will be received remains to be seen, but I know my husband felt empowered by the idea of giving constructive feedback instead of just complaining to his wife.
Do you give feedback when it’s necessary, or do you only give your opinion when asked? Do you have any advice for others on giving constructive feedback?
Photo by hashmil on Flickr.