Do you know how your employees feel - really?


Let's guess that in your role as manager you are busy with the day-to-day operational work. Many questions to answer and even more problems to solve? In such situations, it can be difficult to find time to tune in to the well-being of the workplace - especially if your employees work remotely. At the same time, you know that employees are your company's most important asset - and that the better they feel, the better they perform and are more effective.


Workplace well-being increasingly important

Many managers have become accustomed to discussing, giving feedback and checking the situation with employees in passing at the coffee machine. But when you meet with employees less and less often, this becomes difficult. For example, you can see that introverts have been worse off as a result of teleworking, perhaps because these people are not actively seeking social and feedback contact. In addition, many managers find it challenging to dare to talk to their employees about their well-being.


The empathic leadership

Today we talk a lot about empathic leadership. But if you're a leader who's busy and has to run on a lot of balls, there's not much time left to be empathetic. Even if your intention at the beginning of the week is to check in with employees, you mostly get to act as a fire extinguisher and prioritise the things that just have to be done. Without support and systemisation, it can often feel impossible to find the time to focus on empathy in the midst of all the stress.


In reality, no one knocks on the boss's door

Not actively finding out how employees are feeling tends to result in many leaders expecting their employees to come to them on their own when they are feeling bad, having challenges, or doing something really well. Unfortunately, that's not really the reality. If we're being completely honest, it's unlikely that an employee will knock on their manager's door and say "I did really well with this delivery" or "there's some frustration between me and my colleague after the presentation yesterday."

Instead, if you let employees do this in a reflective moment to themselves, they can show how they solved tasks and tackled problems. This results in increased self-esteem and well-being in the workplace, not least when you take the time to give feedback on the reflections. When you work in a structured way with reflection and feedback, you don't have to spend most of your time solving employees' problems. Instead, they become more proactive and gain insights into potential for improvement themselves. At the same time, they feel seen by you as a leader.


The importance of being seen

All research shows that employees want more feedback from their immediate manager. And what they want feedback on is the effort behind the results - to be appreciated for the work that made the results possible. Because when your employees go that extra mile, they want it to show, otherwise there's really no point in them doing it.

When you work alone, it's easy for frustration or problems to constantly swirl around in your head. That's when it can feel good to get your thoughts out in writing, just as many people write bullet lists when they're feeling stressed. Getting reflections, thoughts, worries and success factors down on paper allows you to see what employees are focusing on and where they are going. It improves efficiency and no one risks running a mile in the wrong direction.


Reflection brings clarity and constructiveness

When employees begin to reflect and receive feedback on their thoughts and insights, they will feel seen and appreciated for what they do and who they are, rather than being a small part of the team. You will also be able to see things that otherwise fall through the cracks.

While employees are mandated to highlight successes, you as a leader are mandated to provide feedback on these reflections. When you meet people in this way, it is easier to have conversations that are constructive. Relevant feedback is so much more than a "cheers". It should be clear to your employees what they are doing well and what they can do better - something that is completely impossible to achieve without reflection.


Old feedback is not relevant 

Implementing continuous reflection and feedback in an organisation is like having an ongoing quarterly conversation. It means that discussions about improvements and challenges don't become a big deal, because it happens all the time. It also makes it easier to take ownership and develop in a real way. Just having an annual appraisal meeting is not optimal because the feedback is too much and there are too many things to consider.

Moreover, feedback is a fresh commodity: old feedback is not relevant. If there are conflicts in a group or if you have delivered above expectations, it does not make sense to bring this up months later, in the context of the annual appraisal meeting. If there are conflicts, irritation has time to build up and if the employee is not encouraged for the effort, it can lower self-esteem. It will also be no fun for you to give feedback on things that happened a long time ago and that you were not aware of.


Want to know what it actually looks like?

Now you may be asking yourself how you will have time to ask each individual how they are doing and what challenges they face in their work. But in reality, five minutes is all it takes. Using a reflection log is the easiest way to create a reflective organisation. Each week you can clearly:

  • See how employees feel linked to their work role
  • Know what each employee is focusing on
  • Follow up on individual goals
  • See how employees perceive you as a leader
  • Watch how motivation changes over time


The reflection log differs from anonymous heart rate measurements in that you can follow up and make improvements. For example, instead of seeing that some employees are stressed, you can clearly see who is feeling stressed, about what and how they need support. In this way, you can increase well-being in the workplace.

The most common feedback we get from managers who use Rolf's reflection log is that it lets them know how things actually are. The reflection log is also a good support for those who find it difficult to ask questions to employees. Once you know what works and what doesn't work in your organisation, you can easily correct and optimise. Because how will you know what it actually looks like if no one reflects on it?