Why Employee Suggestion Boxes Donít Work

First, I’ll start with why some employee feedback programs don’t work:

* Feedback systems are often black boxes. Ideas and suggestions either never get seen or fall on deaf ears. If you aren’t willing face the brutal facts and take immediate corrective action, then DON’T ASK FOR SUGGESTIONS.

* Feedback received isn’t timely. If the system is designed to gather information, but it’s not noticed or acted on immediately, then the problem either already did its damage or has grown into a bigger problem.

* Suggestions are poorly defined. Too often, employee feedback systems are only used to vent personal issues about peers, managers and customers and don’t identify the core operation or process that is broken.

* Lack of accountability. Most systems don’t provide any feedback loops to ensure corrective measures are identified, implemented and standardized.

* Feedback is ad-hoc, not systematic. If you don’t make it a priority everyday, or every week – then feedback systems won’t stick long-term.

Now the good news. This doesn’t have to be rocket science - here are a few tips to get an effective feedback system started:

* Make it a habit.

* Keep it anonymous.

* Make it about what, not about who.

* Good systems ask for feedback on corrective measures that will work; good systems are not just looking for complaints.

* Don’t shoot the messenger - if you aren’t ready to hear the brutal facts, then go to another website.

* Make sure the issues are visible so EVERYONE can weigh-in on what issues need addressing first.

* Never, ever stop! It’s continuous improvement.

* Offer rewards when improvements save the company time, energy and money. It only works if everyone has a stake in the outcome.

* When you listen - don’t defend but keep an open ear and mind to what your people have to say.

Today more than ever we all need to work together to identify and solve the issues that are holding our performance back. Employees and owners can no longer look to the other for the answers - we need to work together to make our organizations and ourselves stronger, better and more effective.


A serial entrepreneur and student of business who is passionate about making things better.

Interactive Marketing, Social Media, Business start-up, Marketing, Market research, leadership, business optimization, organizational measurement and assessment, Continuous Improvement.

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