48 Hours: Set Expectations for Feedback Follow-up

Linda Dulye's picture

“I’m not going to ask any more questions. I’m still waiting for someone to get an answer back to me to a question that I asked months ago.” This is a comment from an employee at one of our clients. It was submitted as part of our research into employee perceptions of management responsiveness to feedback.

When employees or colleagues provide feedback, when can they expect follow-up from you?

We think 48 hours (or sooner, if possible) is the sweet spot for reinforcing the notion that you are listening. Why? A response time of two days shows urgency and respect for the person providing the initial feedback. Anything longer and you’ll lose credibility and give the impression you don’t value feedback. Here are three tips to keep in mind when preparing to follow up:

  • Communicate directly what your follow-up time frame is when conducting team meetings, one-on-ones with staff, or even a quick hallway exchange. When you receive an email comment or suggestion, reply as quickly as possible with your expected response time.
  • If follow-up actions take longer than expected, personally circle back by phone, face-to-face or email, and explain why. By doing so, you reinforce that you haven’t forgotten about their feedback or question, and reset expectations.
  • Sometimes an idea or recommendation surfaced by a team member isn’t the right thing to do. In these situations, follow-up personally with them and explain why.

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