Every business has blind spots. Don’t think you do? That’s exactly why they’re called “blind”–they’re the weaknesses that go unnoticed…ultimately, at the expense of success and profitability.
Here’s the other thing about blind spots: they’re anything but harmless. Typically, these kinds of weaknesses suggest far-reaching problems woven into the culture of a company–often wreaking havoc without the notice of upper management or leadership.
The good news? Blind spots can be addressed and resolved…but it takes a bit of strategy (and a healthy dose of humility).
In this article, we’ll look at why blind spots go unnoticed…what they might look like in action….and most importantly, how to identify and resolve them using employee feedback.
Why Blind Spots are “Blind”
Some weaknesses might be easily identified and acknowledged–such as an employee’s blatant underperformance or chronic disorganization. A blind spot, however, may be dangerously ingrained into the culture of a company, making it a bit less obvious.
One reason that blind spots may be overlooked is the potentially dangerous power of “groupthink”.
According to Psychology Today, groupthink is “when a group of well-intentioned people make irrational or non-optimal decisions spurred by the urge to conform or the belief that dissent is impossible.”
In other words, well-meaning employees and managers may be perpetuating unhealthy habits or workflows because they either a) don’t want to cause waves; or b) believe that it would be inappropriate to call out weaknesses.
While having a strong company culture is generally a good thing–encouraging unity, belonging, and purpose–refusing to disagree for fear of breaking unity is where company culture can get dangerous. As you’ll see soon, that’s why it’s so critical to weave open communication into company culture.
Next, overlooking blind spots may be the result of fear of management or leadership. If your company culture is domineering and fear-driven, your team members are unlikely to speak up about poor work habits or underlying issues.
Finally, overlooking blind spots may simply be the result of a lack of bigger picture thinking. If your team and leadership are constantly scrambling to put out fires and stay on top of the ball, it’s unlikely anyone is going to pause to point out a deeper issue.
Blind Spots Can Look Like….
In theory, a blind spot in your company can look like anything. Still, there are a few common denominators for weaknesses that can go unnoticed or unacknowledged for too long–ultimately doing damage to efficiency, productive output, and your overall working environment:
- Poor communication
- Inefficient workflows
- Toxic relationships
Poor communication happens when:
- Employees don’t get the information they need to perform their job well
- Information is communicated inefficiently or unclearly.
Unfortunately, poor communication can work its way into the culture of a company through the perpetuation of bad habits. For example, if there’s no established system for communicating certain types of information, it might become commonplace to approach multiple parties with the same requests or questions. Or, perhaps critical information is often communicated verbally, without a written record to help track and fact-check conversations.
In any case, poor communication is too often the culprit for a whole host of other problems–and often goes unresolved or unacknowledged for far too long. In fact, in 2019, 80% of workers in the U.S. said that poor communication is a source of stress at work.
Establishing smooth, automated workflows is key to running a company that uses its resources efficiently. But when new employees are onboarded into inefficient workflows again and again–and managers do little to change those workflows–companies suffer from losing time and energy on ineffective processes.
Toxic relationships might occur at any level in a workplace setting–between colleagues, between managers and their team members, or between upper-level management and managers.
Unhealthy relationships in the workplace may be the result of one party wielding power over another in the form of coercion or put-downs.
In fact, one study says that 27% of adults have experienced bullying at work. Or, an unhealthy relationship may simply be an unhealthy pattern that affects communication and efficiency. In any case, toxicity in the workplace can have a radically negative impact on the company environment, productive output, and employee retention.
Research by Harvard Business Review found that “the single most important factor in team success or failure is the quality of relationships on the team.”
Feedback: Your Superpower Strategy to Resolving Blind Spots
The secret to quickly identifying blind spots? Your employees–and more specifically, their feedback.
A company culture dominated by a “Don’t question” mentality ultimately masks issues and helps perpetuate the dysfunction. The antidote is to actually ask your employees for their feedback and opinions. What potential problems do they see at work? Are they satisfied with their workflows and their environment? Do they have any suggestions?
Here there are three steps to use feedback to identify blind spots…and resolve them before they do any more damage.
1. Survey your employees.
Asking for feedback sounds great in theory, but comes with a couple significant challenges. First, it can be difficult to build a feedback strategy into workflows that are already busy or overwhelmed. Second, it can feel awkward to ask for–and provide–feedback.
That being the case, deploying a regular employee survey can be an efficient and effective way to build feedback into workflows. Nailted is a software tool that makes it simple and convenient to survey your employees, collect their honest and actionable feedback, and quickly identify weaknesses with the following:
- Pulse surveys sent at the end of every week–giving your team members an optionally anonymous channel to share their feedback on what’s going wrong, what’s going right, and what they might suggest to make your business even stronger….
- Targeted campaigns that allow you to gather insight on each team member’s progress, career, motivation, values, and company alignment…
- A “mood map” – allowing you to monitor your employees’ mental health and identify potential burnout before it results in turnover…
- And more.
Ultimately, Nailted allows you to incorporate feedback into your company culture–helping you to resolve blind spots before they kill your performance.
2. Take action.
Next, take action. You’ve collected employee feedback–ideally, they’ve given you honest insight into blind spots that may be affecting workflows, morale, productivity, and more. Now, your task is to implement their advice and take action to make real improvements.
For example, if your employees complain about meetings that run too long, then take steps to identify what’s causing them to drag, and shift your meeting agenda. Or maybe you have team members that have identified a toxic working relationship that’s affecting your company environment–you may want to meet with both parties for conflict-resolution.
In any case, take the time to actually consider the feedback your employees have given you, and to act on their insights–again, they are your most powerful source of intel into what’s working at your company, and what’s not.
Finally, repeat the whole process over again. Though you may have identified and resolved some serious blind spots (bravo!), your work isn’t over. Unfortunately, you’ll most likely develop new weaknesses. Keep surveying your employees, exploring feedback, and taking action.
Here’s the good news: The more you integrate feedback into your regular processes and make a practice of resolving problems, the healthier (and more profitable) your company will become over time.
If you’d like to see how collecting employee feedback can help you improve your company’s productivity and efficiency (and boost overall employee satisfaction), book a demo with one of our team experts!