Hierarchies Prevent Honest Employee Feedback
An effective way of encouraging people to challenge ideas and identify problems is to establish feedback systems. These systems will allow information to be shared freely and openly between hierarchies. Pixar’s example of this type of system was their Notes Day in 2013. On this day, the entire company halted operations. Instead of working as usual, every staff member spent their day working in teams to provide company feedback. This one day helped build a culture where employees felt free to engage in an open dialogue. Problems were shared, and solutions were offered and implemented into their company plans.
Feedback Relies on Ownership
Feedback from staff members is crucial. However, feedback can be either unproductive or productive. One way to increase the likelihood of your staff members’ feedback being productive is to encourage them to take ownership of their work. Ed Catmull offers a historic example of ownership encouraging effective feedback. In the 1940s, Japanese companies gave all workers the ability to stop the factory assembly line. This decision provided all employees with the ability to identify problems. As the employees were the ones to spot the problem, they then felt more ownership over solving the problem. Hence, the factories were able to improve productivity by employees identifying and fixing problems without managerial input.
It is the management’s job to ensure that they value workers’ feedback. Workers should perceive that voicing their opinions has an impact on the management’s decision-making. It is a terrible idea to ignore feedback or tell workers off for pointing out areas of improvement. Ed Catmull explains how he ensured his employees at Pixar felt valued. Specifically, he visited every employee individually to gain their insights. These individual meetings made his workers more confident in voicing their opinions. Plus, these experiences were helpful for Ed in understanding the current system.