Why (and How) to Let Your Employees Pinpoint Your Biggest Hurdles

September 6, 2016

9:45 am

Let’s face it: Most companies are scared to ask their employees “What are we doing wrong here?”

That’s because employees often come armed with a laundry list of grievances that organizations either don’t want to hear or don’t believe are problems.

The result? Issues that never get fixed and employees that never feel heard.

What I’ve discovered since co-founding the creative design agency eLearning Mind is that I’ve learned the most valuable lessons, and have discovered solutions for the hurdles that come with building a business from our people.

At my company, we’ve turned the typical workplace culture on its head by actively soliciting opinions from all teams on roadblocks and hurdles through meetings called “DeHassles.” Thanks to DeHassles, morale is up, problems get solved quicker, we become more agile, and productivity and quality is better than ever.

This is all because we asked employees “What’s wrong?” and, more importantly, “How can we make this right?”

Disclaimer: We have to clarify that we aren’t just randomly polling employees with no rhyme or reason. There is a proven process that should be followed when implementing a DeHassle to get the best results. Here’s what you need to know to launch a DeHassle meeting at your company.

Why a DeHassle Is Part of a Postive Culture

We believe in building a company where both the business and its employees thrive. We believe that happy, engaaged employees take ownership in making a company even better. We believe that it’s our employees who truly understand what’s not working, and what needs to change. And so, we believe that by listening to our employees about where we can improve, we create the best opportunity for our business and the employees that are a part of it to thrive.

Ignoring the day-to-day issues that employees face as roadblocks is a fatal flaw in most company cultures. Instead of turning a blind eye or deciding that they’re “employee-only” issues, my team works together to find solutions to the very things that could be stopping employees and departments from meeting their full potential.

We get it. Putting yourself out there and actively soliciting opinions can be scary, especially if you know that you haven’t been leading like you should. But, as leadership consultant and writer Peter Drucker says, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

What Is a De-Hassle?

Peter Drucker (known as the founder of modern management) was one of the first to urge businesses to view employees as assets, instead of liabilities. From this view, it makes complete sense to view not only your employees, but their opinions as assets to your business too.

What makes people hate their job? Most often, it’s recurring problems happening over and over that cause not only frustration, but lost productivity. To fix this, you have to figure out what’s “hassling” your employees. Because employees are closest to your customer base, their problems are often directly affecting your customers in some capacity.

So to fix this, the only solution is to hear out what’s stopping your employees from doing their jobs as effectively as possible. Here’s where a De-Hassle comes in.

How to Launch A DeHassle At Your Company

A DeHassle meeting should be conducted annually on the departmental level (individually this is much too difficult for companies with thousands of employees) and looks something like this:

  • Each department meets together for 30 to 45 minutes with a meeting facilitator assigned.
  • The facilitator asks all employees what they feel is holding them and their team back at work. Make sure that everything being said is true for the team and not an assumed problem for another department.
  • The facilitator should write all of the issues down, and then go around and have each team member individually rank the various issues from the most to least important as it relates to their opinion. From this, you tally the numbers to find a general team consensus of the biggest hurdles.

Now that everything is all in the open you can begin fixing issues one by one, in order of importance (with the exception of those problems that are small and easy to fix). The responsibility relies on leadership to begin working towards fixing the issues, with each employee contributing positively to the solutions.

The Benefits

Getting your whole team on board with what we call “Positive Leadership” components like DeHassles offer real and specific benefits to your organization. By having employees rank issues by priority, we get a general idea of the most important issues and which need to be tackled first. By giving employees a platform to talk about the issues they see every day, we give them a platform to be heard. By coming together and working on a solution as team and department, we build morale and contribute to a positive, communicative company culture.

If your organization is truly dedicated to moving forward and becoming better every day, good communication is key. By giving our employees the chance to let us know about the issues that hold them and their team back from awesomeness, we work together to find solutions that benefit the greater good, know where to focus our attention, and know which issues can be set on the back burner for a while. Fearlessly holding DeHassles–and making an effort to listen to the troops on the ground–is another vital piece to the company culture puzzle.

Image: WoCinTech

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Andrew Fayad is the CEO, co-founder, and managing partner of eLearning Mind, ELM is a creative design agency focused on digital education for Fortune 500 companies.

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