Feedback Fail: This Simple Habit Encourages Employees to Speak Up

Jason Cortel
4 min readFeb 8, 2022


If you’re like most managers, you’re always looking for ways to improve. That’s why you have regular one-to-one meetings, status updates, quarterly check-ins, goal plans, and performance reviews with your employees. Perhaps your organization conducts annual employee opinion surveys. But are you getting the feedback you need to make real progress?

Unfortunately, most managers make the same mistake when asking for feedback, creating thousands of missed opportunities because employees aren’t speaking up and offering their ideas.

Why do employees withhold their ideas and feedback? This surprising habit will help you encourage them to speak up with meaningful feedback. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the reasons why employees often withhold feedback and offer some tips on how you can change that.

Why employee feedback is critical to a manager’s success.

Employee feedback is a crucial part of a manager’s success. By soliciting feedback, managers can learn what’s working and what needs improvement. Additionally, feedback can help managers understand employee engagement levels and identify areas where they may need to focus their attention.

Ultimately, feedback is essential for any manager who wants to make progress and improve their team’s performance. By soliciting employee feedback and taking action on it, managers can create a more positive and productive work environment.

Why don’t employees provide feedback, and how can managers change that?

Employees often withhold feedback because they don’t feel heard or valued. They may not think that their feedback will make a difference or that their manager will act on it. Additionally, they may not feel comfortable giving feedback if they don’t have a good relationship with their manager.

Managers can change this by creating an environment where employees feel comfortable giving feedback. This includes establishing trust and openness, listening carefully to feedback, and taking action.

Managers can also encourage feedback by asking specific questions about what’s working and what needs improvement. This shows employees that you’re interested in their thoughts and take their feedback seriously.

How managers can encourage feedback from their teams.

Managers need to create an environment where employees feel comfortable giving feedback. This starts by establishing a feedback culture, so it is a normal and necessary part of the workplace. Managers can also set the tone by being open to feedback themselves.

They are more likely to offer feedback when they feel that their input is valued and will be used to make positive changes. Therefore, managers should express interest in their feedback and thank employees for their suggestions. In addition, managers should follow up to show that it was heard and acted upon.

Finally, managers should avoid reacting defensively to feedback. Instead, take the time to comprehend the feedback and see if you can learn anything from it.

This habit gets better results when asking employees for ideas and feedback.

Most managers ask generic questions when asking for feedback. Unfortunately, generic questions don’t engage or motivate employees to speak up. One of the best ways managers can get employee feedback is to create a habit of asking better questions.

When managers ask open-ended and specific questions, they are more likely to offer valuable ideas and feedback. They are also more likely to offer feedback when they feel you value their input.

Effective questions that managers can ask to get feedback include:

  • What is one thing as a team that we are doing, or not doing, that is holding us back?
  • What process have we put in place that has made doing your job more difficult?
  • What is the one thing we are doing that really annoys our customers?
  • What is one thing we could change to improve our process or product?
  • What is the main driver of conflict you have with another person or department?
  • What is the biggest problem we have that no one is talking about?

These questions are specific because they are asking for one thing. Additionally, they are specific to a person, process, or product. They aren’t generic or broad questions. After asking the question it is critical to remain silent and offer the employee time to think or reflect. Additionally, remain calm, don’t argue or get upset, and thank them after they answer.

To get the most out of feedback, managers should ensure that they’re asking specific, open-ended questions that encourage employees to share their thoughts and ideas. Additionally, managers should be prepared to listen attentively and take action on feedback accordingly.

Share your most effective questions for gathering employee feedback in the comments below.

Originally published at on February 8, 2022.



Jason Cortel

Changing the world by developing people professionally. Author who blogs about leadership, career advice, and coaching. #WhyYouNow