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Support: Dealing with Stress in the Workplace

Sample Feedback Script [2.10.1c15]

Face-to-face discussions with employees are an alternative approach to surveys or written responses. They emphasize that you are willing to invest time to meet with employees individually to hear their feelings, opinions, and input. Your organization may decide to “set the stage” by letting employees know you will be talking with them about important issues, that all information will be kept confidential—no names will be associated with the responses—and that participation is voluntary. The purpose of these conversations is to give the employee the chance to discuss:

• How they feel the job could be improved;
• Steps that can make the job more satisfactory; and
• General concerns.

Follow-through is important. Make sure summary information and/or next steps are reported back to employees, either individually or in a group, for each topic of concern. Identify next steps, whether a drastic change in policy, or information-gathering to determine the right approach.

The sample script below is designed for general use and should be adapted for your environment. It is intended to get you thinking about how to start conversations with employees to gather useful feedback. You may decide to change the question or tone, or you may decide that there is a more appropriate method to let the employees know you are interested in their concerns.

Employee morale problems can be the result of any number of workplace problems. If employees don't like a particular supervisor, or feel that their work isn't appreciated, work outcomes and results will suffer. Getting to the root of the problem is sometimes a challenge. (Read The Importance of Managers, click here)

In many instances, the only way to find out is to ask your employees to tell you. This can be a difficult situation for you and for them.

You could open the discussion by saying something like:

“Thanks for coming to talk with me. What I’d like to talk about is employee morale (or your feelings about certain aspects of your job). I want to make this job as satisfying for you as I can. Before I can do that, though, I need to know how you feel your job could be made more fulfilling or what other steps we can take to make you feel satisfied in your work.”

At this point, if the employee has comments or feedback, let the employee talk. Maintain eye contact, take good notes, and occasionally nod or smile to let the employee know that you’re listening. If the employee doesn’t seem to have anything to say or seems hesitant to comment, you might say:

“I want you to know that I’m really interested in what you have to say, and I don't want you to feel uncomfortable giving criticism, if that’s what’s necessary. All the information you tell me will be held in confidence. This is really a team process and we’re on the same side. If it’s OK with you, I’d like to go through some specific questions and get your thoughts. If you’d rather not do this now, let me know. We can schedule another time to meet or you can jot some thoughts down on paper. If you feel uncomfortable and would rather not participate, that is OK too.”

If the employee seems really uncomfortable or uninterested, you might conclude the session. If the employee wants to continue participating, you could go through a list of questions or topics and ask the employee to comment on them.

Here’s a sample of some topics that might get your discussion going:

• The good and bad habits of supervisors and coworkers;
• The employee’s future at the company and how he or she feels about it;
• The employee’s workload and the distribution of work in general;
• The employee’s working conditions and how he or she feels they could be improved;
• The employee’s feelings about the importance of the work he or she does;
• How employees get along with each other;
• The condition of the equipment the employee uses;
• The pay and benefits the employee receives and how these compare with other companies;
• The consistency and fairness of the way employees are treated and disciplined;
• Whether the employee feels that supervisors and co-workers tell the employee what he/she needs to know;
• The potential for growth/advancement;
• The employee’s experiences with and feelings about coaching and feedback;
• The usefulness and appropriateness of instructions and training received;
• The effectiveness of communication among co-workers and between workers and supervisors; and
• The attitude of the managers/owners toward the employees.

You might ask the employee to respond to each of these topics, eliminate topics, or provide alternative questions. Be sure to take good notes and ask clarifying questions.

After the discussion, sum up by saying:

“Thanks very much for taking the time to let me know how you feel. I appreciate your honesty, and I hope you’ll feel free to come and talk to me if you have questions, suggestions, or additional comments.”

Let the employee know what to expect:

“After I conduct more meetings with other employees, I’m going to look at this information and try to figure out ways that we can change things to make your job more rewarding. I hope to have some information back to you within 2 weeks that will tell you where we’ll go from here.”

“Thanks again.”

Adapted from the source: Office Depot, Sample script for getting employee feedback on job satisfaction. Retrieved January 30, 2008, from BNET Tools and Templates Web site:

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