Typically, the best sources of information about a job or organization are the employees themselves. However, gathering open, honest, and constructive feedback can sometimes be challenging. This type of feedback is also called voice, or an employee’s expression of opinions, concerns, or suggestions, and is either increased or decreased by both external and internal factors.
THE RESEARCH STUDY
The authors of this study (Tangirala & Ramanulam, 2012) were interested in testing the combined effect of both an external condition and an internal motivation for employee voice: manager consultation and perceived influence. Manager consultation is how much a manager asks for and listens to employee feedback. Employee perceived influence is how much he or she feels they influence work-related issues.
Examining surveys from 640 frontline nurses and their supervisors revealed that managers who solicit feedback from employees to a greater degree increase their employees’ perceived influence, which also increases employee voice. On top of that, these relationships are stronger for higher profile managers (those with higher status in the organization), for employees with higher self-efficacy (those who have confidence in their own abilities), and for employees who are more satisfied with their jobs.
BOTTOM LINE FOR ORGANIZATIONS
Employees’ propensity to speak out and offer feedback depends on whether they feel like their words have any sway—a perception which depends on the extent leaders ask for and act on feedback. In addition to asking for this feedback, make sure that leaders have the requisite status to do something meaningful with the feedback.