Why Leaders Should Ask: How’s My Driving?

Have you ever seen a sticker on the back of a tractor-trailer rig that asks, “How’s my driving?” There’s a phone number just below that question you can use to call and report dangerous drivers, and even courteous or safe drivers.
Asking for feedback as a C-suite executive is a lot like asking, “How’s my driving?” As a company leader, you’re steering the organizational culture that carries your company, either successfully to your destination, or into the ditch.

Establishing a productive feedback loop is an essential ingredient in the most successful companies. Knowing what all stakeholders are thinking requires some innovative solutions and executives who are willing to implement changes get the corporate culture back on the road to success.

Exit Interviews
If you’ve got retention issues or want to avoid them, you first need to know why employees are leaving your company. A recent study revealed that the number one reason people leave a job is a negative relationship with a manager. That could mean a personality clash or work style conflict. Some employees also feel undervalued and unappreciated. But finding out why employees are leaving gets you one step closer to fixing the problem; so set up exit interviews or questionnaires for every former staffer.

Employee Surveys
Employee satisfaction surveys are a great way to get an overview of employee morale and company culture, which are intertwined. A survey doesn’t have to be a last resort; it can help identify burgeoning issues before they cost valuable employees.

Customer Surveys
You might wonder how customer surveys can help create a better workplace. When customer feedback is combined with employee feedback, it creates a snapshot of the corporate culture from all angles. Happy employees make great ambassadors for a company. Great customer service is an indicator of a positive corporate culture, but it’s not the whole picture without employee feedback.

Driving the Direct Feedback Loop
The best information about how you’re doing as an employer comes through direct and open lines of communication. That requires an organizational culture of trust — one that values the individual and isn’t punitive in its overall management style.

If this describes your company, congratulations: you probably don’t have employee satisfaction or retention issues. But, in order to stay ahead of issues when they arise, it’s best to “check in” with employees periodically. This can be through goal-setting meetings or performance reviews; but again, punishment for honesty damages trust, and will cost you your best employees in the long run.

Without feedback, there’s no answer to the question, “How’s my driving?” Once you have that answer, however, you also have to make the indicated changes if you want to keep the lines of communication open. Remember that it’s a feedback loop — it requires corrective action on your part to keep the company headed in the right direction.

Carl Robinson, Ph.D., Managing Principal, Advanced Leadership Consulting

carl @ leadershipconsulting.com

We help maximize the effectiveness of individuals and organizations by helping them improve their ability to lead, work together, select and develop their people.

Carl is a business psychologist and leadership development expert who focuses on the development of high performance leaders. www.leadershipconsulting.com

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