1. Drake, Kirsten DNP, RN, OCN, NEA-BC

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Q The results from our employee engagement survey came back and my feedback was less than desirable. What can I do to improve before the next survey, which is in 6 months?

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Addressing employee engagement can seem intimidating and overwhelming. An unfortunate statistic is that employee engagement hasn't shifted much over the years, with 60% to 70% in the disengaged and actively disengaged categories. Nevertheless, there are some steps you can take to shift this statistic in your favor.


First, you may need to reframe your thinking about employee engagement. A line from an article I read a few years ago has stuck with me: "Engagement must be a core function of the manager's role."1 This article listed the following five steps to improve engagement: 1. put everyone in the right role, 2. give them training, 3. task meaningful work, 4. check in often, and 5. frequently discuss engagement.1 Checking in often leads to routine conversations and the ability to give and receive feedback.


I want to circle back to your comment, "my feedback was less than desirable." Because I can't ask clarifying questions, I'm going to assume this is about your leadership. With this assumption, let's discuss how you can develop a good check-in process to enhance your growth.


In a recent podcast by Full Focus, the hosts discussed a structured format/process on how to seek feedback from those you serve.2 It's much more detailed than the one or two questions you ask when making rounds. This format includes scheduling a meeting with the person or group you're seeking feedback from and sending them the questions in advance, so they can think about the feedback versus answering off the cuff. They recommend the scheduled meeting time should be at least 90 minutes to leave ample time for discussion. The last part of this process is to provide follow-up as necessary.


The podcast identified the following questions to discuss during your meeting:


1. How can I serve you better as a leader?


2. What's one thing you need from me that you're not getting?


3. In what ways do you feel set up to win or lose in your position?


4. If we could resolve one issue to improve your role, what would it be?


5. What opportunities do you see in our business?


6. What can I do better to lead our team as a whole?


7. What's one thing I do that makes you crazy?


8. What would you like me to keep doing?


9. What's one disconnect you see between me and the rest of the team?


10. How can I better communicate with you?


11. What are three suggestions to make me better for our business?2



As you can see from these questions, you need to be prepared to listen to the answers. Use reflective listening and take notes so you can go back to really digest the information after the meeting. Don't make any promises during the meeting and be sure to thank the employee for their time and feedback. After several feedback sessions, compile the information, look for trends, and evaluate what you can control and change. As you incorporate the changes, those you lead will take note that you were listening to them. Asking the same questions two or three times a year will provide routine opportunities for you to grow your leadership skills. You'll start to see improvements in your employee engagement survey results regarding your leadership as you integrate the feedback.




1. Gleason B. 5 powerful steps to improve employee engagement. Forbes. 2017. [Context Link]


2. Hyatt M, Hyatt-Miller M. (Hosts)/Full Focus. Lead to Win. Get the Feedback You Need to Grow. [podcast]. June 7, 2022. [Context Link]