I’ve been a member of the same gym for 13 years. I expect a few things to change periodically, but in the past few years I have seen favorite classes and instructors go away without warning – even when the classes have been consistently well-attended (and obviously well-liked). Last week, I showed up in the group exercise room ready to “pump some iron” and found a few yoga mats scattered around the room along with a few confused members scanning the room for the answer to “what happened to class?” A minute later, the instructor came in and announced that no one told her the class was changing, but we were going to proceed with yoga, nonetheless. (I even provided the yoga music!) Like me, some stayed to try it out – despite not having my yoga mat and being geared for a completely different workout – while others just walked out because they didn’t get what they came for or expected.
After class, the instructor and I chatted about the schedule changes and she commented, “I wish they would have just asked me. The schedule and classes that work for this gym in California or New York just don’t work the same here.” As a long-time member, I feel the exact same way. If they took the time to ask members like me, and listened to our input, the schedule of classes would certainly be different – and I could almost guarantee that membership numbers would be higher, too. I’ve heard countless stories of people leaving for a different gym because of the lack of classes they want to attend. Even I, a 13-year member, have been tempted to look elsewhere.
Do you treat your employees the same way that my gym treats its members? Sometimes, the “best” thing or the “easiest” process isn’t obvious to you based on your singular experience (or even group experience in the case of a leadership team). Further, what worked for one office, department, or individual may not always work for another. Getting input from your team allows them to feel like a part of the process – and eases buy in to the solution or end-result when it occurs. “Handing down” the verdict to your team on matters that affect them or (like the gym instructor) that they themselves have to implement can make people feel un-heard or even un-cared for.
We encourage clients to undertake employee surveys from time to time or during periods of change to gauge their satisfaction with their position, career path, and supervisor, get their input on client satisfaction and solutions, and garner feedback about the firm and its programs. When a full-scale survey isn’t feasible, consider having an “Employee Suggestion Box” available for random ideas and issues to be considered. Even better, encourage open communication where employees feel comfortable sharing the good and bad with their supervisor and other leaders without fear of retribution or “bad feelings.”
However you get feedback from your team, it’s vital to act on the suggestions or areas for improvement. Opinions and feelings are valid for the individual who raises them, whether you or others feel the same way or not. Addressing the concerns of your staff in some way, even if only bringing them to light to say “we hear you,” will go a long way in building trust, boosting morale, and retaining your top performers.
Do you listen to the needs and suggestions of your team? What methods work best for your firm? As an employee, do you feel heard on matters that affect you? We would love your input on this topic! Please post a comment and share your thoughts.