Historically, feedback has gone in one direction – from the top down. Many employees still receive yearly evaluations, and everyday feedback, from their managers, but few feel like they have the opportunity to give those same managers feedback on how well they lead.

A recent study by CareerBuilder.com shows that 58% of managers reported never having received managerial training. They were never trained how to lead.

And few receive feedback from their employees.

So how can managers tell how well they’re managing?

By retention rates – or lack thereof.

75% of employees who voluntarily leave jobs quit their bosses, not their jobs. (Roger Herman)

High employee turnover is a costly problem to have – but one that can be easily rectified, if you’re brave and caring enough to implement 360 Degree feedback.

What is 360 Degree Feedback?

360 degree feedback is when everyone in the company, or office, is invited to give confidential, anonymous feedback to everyone else, including coworkers, managers, and even the CEO.

When employees have regular opportunities to provide confidential, anonymous feedback on their managers, CEOs, and even coworkers, leadership can begin to see patterns emerge that indicate what the real problems are – and even how to solve them. Employees often readily provide suggestions for improvement.

However, even more problems arise if you ask for employee feedback, and don’t act on it.

60% of U.S. employees reported having a way to provide feedback about their own employee experience, but only 30% of U.S. employees said their feedback is acted upon by their employer. (Qualtrics)

This is another costly mistake because when employees feel like their employers don’t take their opinions into account, engagement suffers, which leads to lower productivity, lower quality of work, and lower retention rates.

Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work (Salesforce)

360 Degree-style feedback is so important to us at Engagement Multiplier, because we’ve seen how effectively it opens the floodgates of open, productive communication. And communication is the linchpin for employee engagement. When employees are clear about company goals, and the reasons behind policies and decisions, they feel less resentful and more willing to contribute creative solutions.

We’ve seen this in our clients’ feedback again and again.

But, we’ve also seen leadership run in the opposite direction from 360 degree feedback!

Leaders must be willing to hear severe criticism – the gloves tend to come off when feedback is anonymous and confidential. That takes above-average bravery.

And, they must be willing to act on what they learn, and show employees that their feedback results in real, tangible change – and not retaliation. When employees know that their feedback is truly valued and will be acted upon, it lays the foundations for trust, loyalty, and employee engagement.

Perhaps the most insidious obstacle for leadership when confronted with negative feedback is the urge to explain – to make excuses. Sometimes there are very real, and unalterable reasons for a policy; in which case, leadership should be open and honest about their limitations.

But, make sure the “reasons” aren’t excuses in disguise. We recommend a “No excuses, just solutions” approach, so excuses don’t get in the way of making much needed changes.

360 Degree feedback doesn’t mean a free-for-all critics-fest. In our employee survey, we ask for constructive criticism, along with ideas for solutions that encourage a more collaborative, less critical environment.

Working together, openly and honestly is the heart of what makes an engaged organization. When everyone feels like their thoughts and ideas matter, they’ll be more motivated to share the thoughts and ideas that will lead to a stronger, happier workforce.