Feedback can be a catalyst for transforming culture. It can help you develop highly successful teams and recruit and retain the best talent. And it stands to reason: If people are the company’s most valuable asset, their insights and feedback should be quite valuable.
While the concept of feedback is simple, a true feedback solution is not. It’s much more than rolling out an emailed survey. Still, it may be tempting to try to take the effort in-house, developing a custom solution for feedback that fits your company’s needs. However, the realities of this kind of undertaking often create more challenges than solutions. Here are a few reasons why.
Developing anything — software, teams, programs, you name it — is costly. And the time and effort needed to launch and maintain in-house solutions are often greatly underestimated.
First, you have to build your solution. Launching a new initiative takes a great deal of planning with more than one skill set. If you want a homegrown feedback solution, you need people who can field the feedback, people who can do something with it, and a system for capturing it. For just those three aspects alone, you’ll need to loop in management, HR, and possibly engineering, depending on how sophisticated your solution needs to be. You’ll also need to ensure your technical infrastructure is capable of supporting your needs, adding IT to the list. And let’s not forget, you’ll need to prepare documentation along the way, so other people can use the solution productively, and that work isn’t managed in a silo.
By the time your new custom feedback solution is live and launched, you’ll likely need a whole team working on it full time just to manage it. Even for simpler endeavors, like surveys and interviews, there is a management aspect that requires a hefty time commitment. For most companies, this kind of draw on resources is not practical or sustainable.
Something else to keep in mind: When you build your own solution, you’re assigning expertise in-house. But to whom? And what elements of their current role(s) are you willing to sacrifice? Whether it’s trucking, logistics, manufacturing, warehousing, or other frontline business, your company has core competencies that don’t have anything to do with employee feedback. Using resources to that end anyway can disrupt productivity and reduce the effectiveness of your initiative.
Instead, keep your teams doing what they’re best at, giving them a chance to excel in the work they were hired to do.
At WorkHound, we’ve learned that anonymous interactions breed trust and encourage engagement. If you’re building a feedback solution in-house, it’s harder to make the case that your workers’ identities will remain hidden.
Some companies earnestly believe they know their workers well and know exactly what they want. But, our analysis of actual feedback from actual workers indicates otherwise. An anonymous solution creates a safe space for honest sharing where there is no fear of retaliation. While some people are very comfortable sharing their thoughts with their employers, others are too shy or intimidated to speak up. Looking at your team, you can probably recognize several employees that would fall into each group. Anonymity levels the playing field by giving everyone an opportunity to speak, regardless of their role or personality.
Sharing a problem with someone is an act of trust. It’s trust that they won’t use the problem against you. Trust that they won’t judge you. Trust that they are willing to help. So, when a problem is shared from a worker to their employer, it’s critically important that the company responds immediately.
With homegrown solutions, you may still be able to collect feedback, but it’s often in the form of surveys, emails, and questionnaires. By the time the information is organized, analyzed and ready for action, weeks and sometimes even months have passed. These tools are useful for big-picture planning, but they’re no substitute for a true feedback loop.
When companies try to solve problems with in-house solutions, it typically starts with a single team or department. And at this level, it may be operationally sound, with your new feedback solution delivering small wins and supporting the intended goals. However, when solutions are built for localized problems, they rarely scale well. This means that when other teams inevitably face the same problems, your solution isn’t going to be able to keep up.
Remember, capturing the feedback is just the beginning. Whether it’s organizing the volume of feedback you receive or properly responding to the information that’s been shared, as your efforts grow, so will the management needs. Unless you’re prepared to hire a whole new department of teams to manage the effort, scaling will be a challenge.
And this brings us to our final point: If you’re going to hire people to manage it, you may want to consider going with the folks who have already invested a whole lot of time and effort into this problem. When you think of it this way, it’s not just a tool, but also a solution that is backed by a team filled with knowledge, expertise and guidance to make the most of it — which is ultimately what most teams are looking for.
Through our anonymous feedback platform, WorkHound helps companies spot trends within the workforce, address issues in real time, and engage in meaningful conversations. And with two-way chat and easy-to-use features, it’s scalable for use across the entire organization.