Top tips for collecting useful employee feedback

By Kayleigh Tanner

Did you know that a staggering 96% of employees want to receive regular feedback? 

How does that compare to the performance management experience in your organization? Are you giving your employees the feedback they’re asking for, or leaving them in the dark? Whether you’re embracing agile performance management and regular check-ins or prefer the traditional annual appraisal approach, there’s plenty we could all be doing to improve the way we collect and deliver employee feedback. Read on to discover our top tips…

Who should give feedback?

Traditionally, feedback stayed between managers and their employees. Managers assess an employee’s performance, they deliver their feedback and the employee may or may not have a chance to respond.

However, this is rarely the best way to handle feedback. As a manager, you may rarely work directly with your employees, and so won’t really know what it’s like to work with them. Your employee may come across as organized and on top of their work in your conversations, but their colleagues may have a very different impression.

For the most holistic view of an employee’s performance, implementing a continuous performance management process is best. You should be speaking to their teammates, other managers, colleagues in other teams and potentially even their customers, clients or third-party contacts. This is called 360 feedback, and it ensures that you as a manager get an accurate insight into employees’ performance.

How should I collect employee feedback?

A manager delivering feedback to their employee in a meeting room

While anecdotal feedback from your other employees is valuable, it can only take you so far. If you want to ensure you’re getting the most accurate, honest feedback, you should use the 360 feedback tool in your performance management system.

It can be tempting to ask everyone to attach their names to their feedback, but this will make many people hesitant about being honest. Anonymized feedback will give you the most accurate responses, and your employees will feel more comfortable sharing their genuine feedback. The 360 form should be emailed out with a clear deadline, and you should be careful not to make the feedback form too arduous to complete.

What are the best 360 feedback questions to ask?

You should include a combination of quantitative and qualitative questions for the richest set of feedback. Examples of quantitative 360 questions to ask include:

  • How helpful is this employee on a scale from 1 (very unhelpful) to 5 (very helpful)?
  • How professional is this employee?
  • How easy do you find it to get what you need from this employee?
  • How much of a team player is this employee?
  • How much do you trust this employee’s expertise?
  • How strong are this employee’s leadership skills?

Some qualitative questions to include are:

  • What does this employee do particularly well?
  • How could this employee improve their performance?
  • What is your favorite thing about working with this employee?
  • What one piece of advice would you give this employee?

You can then aggregate the quantitative data to find an average score from their colleagues (but don’t ignore outlier responses - responses that go against the grain can give you a useful insight into performance), and review the qualitative data to identify performance trends, strengths and weaknesses.

How do I deliver great employee feedback?

These days, employees expect - and actively want - regular feedback. In fact, 80% of millennials prefer on-the-spot feedback to the traditional annual appraisal. Giving regular feedback means that employees can address performance concerns in the moment, and you can have meaningful and productive conversations while they’re still relevant and fresh in everyone’s minds. 

Building feedback into your regular performance check-ins should become the norm. Also be careful not to make your feedback too negative, or your check-ins will become something to dread. There’s a big difference between constructive criticism and simply being negative - make any negative feedback you have a learning point, and ensure that there are productive action points to help remedy any issues.

How do I handle feedback in the longer term?

Agile performance management tools like Totara Perform are perfect for helping you track and manage performance feedback. You can do everything from a single system, whether that’s gathering 360 feedback, setting goals, assessing competencies, conducting appraisals or managing your performance management schedule. You can constantly refer back to this feedback to see how employees are progressing over time, and how your feedback is impacting their performance.

The beauty of Totara Perform is that it sits alongside Totara Learn and Totara Engage in Totara’s Talent Experience Platform. That means that you can connect the dots between positive (or negative) feedback, learning activities and engagement levels, giving you a more comprehensive overview of an employee's overall performance.

Ready to give better employee feedback?

Grab one of the last remaining spaces in our October 8th webinar all about how Totara Perform can help you revolutionize your performance management and enterprise productivity.