Tips for how to get employee input and advice
Focus on specific areas of the office
Focus on specific areas of the office that may not be working as efficiently as other areas. Ask for possible explanations for why things may not be going so well. With any problems that are brought up, ask what types of solutions they think are possible. Ask employees what they feel you as a manager can or should do to solve a problem or make the office run more smoothly.
Do not take the offensive
How can you expect your employees to come to you with questions, concerns, input or advice if you are argumentative to their claims? Every comment has merit and should be treated with respect and consideration. This is not to say that you must implement every suggestion that you receive. It is to say that unless you are sure, because of experience that a certain change will not be beneficial it should be considered as a course of action. Do not let pre-conceived notions stunt your company's progress.
Respect in the workplace
If your employees do not respect your position as a leader they are unlikely to trust that you would make a change if they came to you with input. You must earn the respect by example. As a manager you should be working to gain a reputation as an advocate for the employees that you manage rather than simply a glorified babysitter.
Make the comfort of anonymity available
Often time's employees are hesitant to bring up concerns that they may have about their job or the company because they do not want to cause trouble or to come across as someone who is difficult to please or not a team player. Many companies have long recognized the benefits of providing employees with a risk free way of saying exactly what they want to their managers. The way it works is that the employee is able to write or to fill out a questionnaire online concerning how they feel about the operations of the business. They are given an opportunity to rate the efficiency of their leaders and to provide input and advice completely anonymously. A third party, which is usually an upper management or human resources team that is located in a different office or is other wise detached from the branch holding the survey, will review the responses and present findings to the managers. No one person's comments are singled out and the managers are able to hear the needs of their employees in a constructive and private manner.
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