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From The Grassroots Up

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Feedback is often given from the top, down. This is due to the fact that most executives have a good overview of the business and will, therefore, have a more developed understanding of its overall performance. As a leader, it is your responsibility to keep the business moving in the right direction – this is often achieved by filtering feedback down to other employees.

But could your business benefit from looking from the ground, up?

You’ll be surprised at how many business leaders and executives underestimate the importance of working from the ground up to find relevant feedback and advice. For example, customer facing employees will interact and communicate with your target audience on a daily basis. By analysing these communications, as well as any feedback that they provide, you will be able to make more informed decisions and increase the overall performance of your business. The following points are just a few examples of how you can make the most of the feedback from the grassroots of your business, boosting engagement with both your customers and your team:

1. The Face of the Organisation
Any negative or positive feedback from customers can offer a valuable insight into how your products and services are performing and serving your target audience. However, solely relying on customer feedback may not be the best option – they do not know your products and services well enough to provide the type of feedback needed for improvement opportunities. You are far more likely to gain a better perspective if you turn to your frontline employees for feedback.

Employees will have a good understanding of your business – their feedback will be based on interactions with a wide range of customers as well as any experience gained from working with the products and services on a daily basis. However, if frontline staff do not have any feedback from customers or from their own experiences, you need to question whether the people in your team really know your products and the customers that rely on your services, as well as reasons for missed sales and secured sales.

2. The Health of Internal Processes
It is sad but true that businesses often end up serving highly sophisticated business systems rather than the other way around. When reviewing your system, ask yourself whether the current complex, multistep and sophisticated processes that are in place have a purpose – or is the process slowing you down? Getting such feedback ensures leaders are continually improving processes and reducing non-value add system time; which usually results in follow on steps that further add to the overall complexity.

3. Improvement Ideas
Because front line staff regularly work with your customers and products, they will often have simple but effective improvement ideas that could multiply and go on to generate further improvements. Usually, these initial ideas will be too small for an executive to look at. But, multiple ideas added together which are then brought to the attention of an executive could go on to make huge savings and improvements to products and customer experience.

4. What Exactly Matters
Reporting is a tricky and very filtered process. The information given to executives can be limited as they are only presented with what they need or want to know. Consequently, only information that a busy executive actually hears or reads will end up as a priority on the to-do list. On the ground, there is a better opportunity to quickly identify any issues and then fix them, opening the pathway for further innovation and improvement – an excellent collaboration of reality and perception.

5. Effectiveness of Communications
Effective communication acts as a catalyst for better engagement with employees and customers and can drastically improve the services that you provide. If there is little communication between each tier within your business, there is very little chance that you will receive feedback that will help you improve.

Do communications between the different departments in your business flow throughout? If it does, how and how quickly? Is it understood well? Is it in context of what impacts people and does it get implemented? Do these communications get to the point or do they need refining? As a leader, it is essential that you have a business process in place to ensure that communications are bi-directional to support feedback and growth.

Feedback is essential to the success of a business but communications must flow both ways in order to gain the feedback you need to improve. A grassroots approach will gain you insights that are hard to obtain when you are sat at the top. It is also crucial that you help facilitate and support this communication with effective and efficient processes – without them, communications will slip through the cracks or fall on deaf ears.

What do you do to encourage feedback from your employees and support the communication process within your business? Are there any other suggestions that you would make? 

Written by
Shivendra Kumar
Shivendra Kumar is a highly regarded leader, known for delivering organizational transformation through innovation and process improvement. With a unique approach and inspirational leadership style that creates a culture of change in businesses, he develops organisational capability needed for both short and long term results. His blogs cover topics related to business improvement, metrics and innovation.