The scenario: You’ve been asked to attend a feedback session with top management. What are the things you can, and cannot, say?

When top management asks for employee feedback, the main intention is to understand the mood on the ground and get new insights on how to improve the company, says Ms Linda Teo, country manager at recruitment firm ManpowerGroup Singapore.

“Staff feedback can also help management leaders develop better business strategies and initiatives as they provide different perspectives.”

Generally, top managers consult employees to understand their perceptions of the company and how they can better address what employees and clients need, Ms Teo adds, noting that head honchos may also seek out exemplary employees to find out the additional support they need.

Senior leaders are looking out for constructive feedback when they engage with employees, says Ms Ishita Bandyopadhyay from professional services firm Aon.

This means that employees should be able to articulate a clear observation, explain its impact, and provide suggestions, adds Ms Bandyopadhyay, who is associate partner in human capital solutions for South-east Asia and India.

Being in touch with top leaders also provides employees with a chance to open up an interactive discussion, she says.

They can do so by posing open-ended questions such as, “How can I help?” or, “What’s the role you want us to play to enable the suggestion made?”

Ms Bandyopadhyay says appropriate topics to talk about include business processes, customer issues, technology challenges and delays in work timelines.

Ms Teo adds that employees can also touch on company policies, workplace culture and business strategies, if it is a group feedback session.

“If management wants to follow up with a one-on-one session, employees can use the opportunity to share their thoughts on topics that they did not feel comfortable mentioning in a group setting.

“During these sessions, they can also share their personal challenges at work and give suggestions on how certain company processes can be improved to boost efficiency.”

Both Ms Teo and Ms Bandyopadhyay advise employees to avoid treating the session as an opportunity to just make complaints, losing sight of the original purpose of finding ways to improve.

Ms Teo says: “Avoid coming off as being too critical by pinpointing all the company’s flaws and problems.”

Most importantly, employees should maintain a professional tone to come across as genuine in their desire to effect positive change.

“On the company’s part, it’s important that they provide a conducive environment where employees feel comfortable giving honest feedback in order to gain the full benefit of the session,” says Ms Teo.

As for inappropriate topics, feedback sessions should generally never be used to personally attack or criticise colleagues or supervisors, says both Ms Teo and Ms Bandyopadhyay.

Ms Teo says employees should also avoid making discriminatory or offensive remarks, including those related to race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

“Employees should also avoid sharing confidential or personal information during a feedback session, such as details about a colleague’s personal life,” she adds.

Text: Tay Hong Yi/The Straits Times