Turning feedback into action

In this article, we dive into the power of feedback and its pivotal role in shaping the future of council services. Whether it’s enhancing community satisfaction, improving team dynamics, or streamlining operations, feedback is your golden ticket.

But, turning this feedback into effective action isn’t always straightforward and we're regularly asked for advice on how best to do this.

This article will guide you through the most common obstacles and share actionable advice to ensure your council can make the most of every piece of feedback.

Actions speak louder than words

There are three key steps to consider when collecting feedback that will help you implement sustainable improvement in your council:

Ask about the things that matter the most.
Listen openly to feedback from all stakeholders.
Act on what will deliver sustainable positive change.

This process is the same regardless of the size of your council or the survey frequency. Whether you run a large annual survey, a series of smaller pulse surveys throughout the year or both, it's vital that you follow the Ask, Listen, Act approach.

 

Common roadblocks to taking action

Is turning feedback into action proving tricky? We've identified four common challenges and offer practical tips to help you overcome them:

1. Taking too long to share results.

Often, results are analysed and reviewed by HR and/or the executive team before sharing more widely. Taking too long will reduce buy-in from your team leaders and give the wider team the impression that nothing is being done. Any momentum in the process gets lost.

TOP TIP: Focus on getting results into the hands of team leaders as quickly as possible to get actions moving while results are hot off the press.

 

2. Understanding results and feedback – what do I do now?

Pressure to understand your survey results and potentially having to process a large volume of feedback can make your managers feel overwhelmed. Even small, frequent surveys can generate vast amounts of information and make it hard to understand what the results mean for individual managers and what they can do about the feedback.

TOP TIP: The best way to overcome any anxiety or confusion is to ensure the survey reports you share with your managers are clear and simple. The key for managers is to take action. We recommend minimising the amount of data to be processed so they can act on it, rather than overwhelming them. Also, consider using a library of suggested actions to give your leaders a better indication of what they could do next.

 

3. Having conversations about feedback feels personal and intimidating. 

As a leader, receiving personal feedback can leave you feeling vulnerable and reluctant to engage with your team. Studies show that the best way to boost people’s confidence is by providing guidance and support on how to facilitate constructive conversations.

TOP TIP: If the feedback is about a manager’s leadership style, HR should be prepared to support them with coaching or consider using a neutral third party to facilitate a conversation.


4. Priorities shift and we lose focus on making the changes that matter.

Focus attention on one key impact at a time. Most councils are under the pump, so be realistic about what changes you can implement quickly. 

Utilise available technology to support an efficient process. It doesn’t need to be overly elaborate –managers should be focused on taking action, not spending their time learning how to use the platform. 

TOP TIP: We recommend using a tool that gives visibility of the actions taken and the impact they have had over time. 

 

The risks of not acting on your feedback

Not taking any action, being slow out of the blocks, or taking action but not communicating what has been done are all detrimental to your culture and reputation, and what you’re trying to achieve. Not communicating what’s been done is especially common at a senior leadership level where most actions undertaken are not always visible or a direct link between feedback and action is obscure.

TOP TIP: Let your entire workforce know what you are doing as a leader to act on the feedback received.

 

Either way, employees and other stakeholders such as residents and ratepayers who believe nothing has been done with their feedback can perceive the survey process as a waste of time. They can become increasingly reluctant to participate and provide their valuable feedback. Similarly, managers can be left feeling deflated and helpless under a barrage of feedback from their team that never improves because they are not empowered or capable of addressing issues.

TOP TIP: Keeping things as simple and practical as possible to allow clear focus on what is most important to your people, will drive engagement and – most crucially – ACTION!

 


 

In summary, harnessing the power of feedback within Australian councils can significantly transform community engagement, employee satisfaction, and operational effectiveness. By adopting a proactive Ask, Listen, Act approach, councils can navigate the complexities of feedback management, ensuring that every voice is heard and acted upon.

Quick dissemination of feedback, simplified reporting for managers, supportive conversations, and focused actions on key priorities are essential steps towards building a responsive and inclusive council environment.

Let's embrace feedback not as a formality but as a cornerstone of continuous improvement and community trust. Together, we can create more vibrant, efficient, and connected communities.

Date: 21st December 2023
Category: Employee Feedback , Community Feedback
Author:
Craig Whitcombe
Craig Whitcombe
Head of Product
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