Tip of the Week: So, Tell Us What You Really Think…

This week’s #MondayMotivation is targeted to executive teams and department leads, but it touches on an important concept that’s relevant to anyone who regularly seeks feedback from others. Thanks to Humane Society of Western Montana’s Executive Director, Marta Pierpoint, for sharing.

If you’re looking to make a change, big or small, at your organization, it’s crucial that staff can share openly and honestly with you. How to make them feel comfortable and safe enough to open up? 

“One thing that I like to keep in mind is that people have varying communication styles,” says Marta Pierpoint, Executive Director at Humane Society of Western Montana. “While some people may be very comfortable saying exactly what they think in front of everyone, others are very quiet in a group setting.” As it’s important to hear from everyone, says Pierpoint, “We try to have multiple ways for people to communicate.”

Here are a few strategies:

  • When soliciting feedback in a group setting, include an opportunity to share via a written exercise. “Sometimes we’ll ask staff to write down their feedback and pass it on to someone else, who then reads it out loud,” says Pierpoint.
  • “This may be super old-fashioned,” she shares, “but we put a coffee can out on the table, and people can write their comments and suggestions.” Pierpoint pulls out the slips, reads them out loud, and responds in the moment. 
  • Pierpoint runs full-staff meetings, twice a week. “It’s right before we open,” she says, “but it’s a nice moment to just talk with each other. There’s no real formal agenda, it’s just whomever wants to talk about what they want to talk. The feedback I’ve gotten about that is it’s just a time to just take a breath and all be together.”
  • And always, always, an Open Door Policy is key. “It’s all fine and well when people talk about efficiency and the importance of scheduling appointments,” says Pierpoint, “but it’s so important to have an open door policy where your staff can come and find you whenever there’s a crisis and whenever something happens.”

These tips were shared during our Roundtable earlier this year, Beyond Best Practices: How to Make Big Changes Happen. Listen to the complete recording.

More Tips

Tip of the Week: Go Ahead, Make My Day
Tip of the Week: Spay It Forward
Tip of the Week: What’s Your Fairness Factor?
Tip of the Week: No-Hesitating Donating

Photo: Jae Park on Unsplash


The Association is the only international society of leaders actively leading and managing community animal shelters/animal control agencies.


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