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Blog author
Sergey Kotlov

Category Archives: Feedback

21 Apr

Don’t give up on feedback, but know when to stop

When you decide to collect company-wide feedback, there’s an important thing to remember: You could fail. And that’s not a problem. After all, it’s just another experiment you can learn from. In this case: You either receive good feedback, or you’ll find out what doesn’t work.

What is success?

Of course, in order to know if what you do works, you need to define what failure or success means. So make sure you define your goals and add a clear timetable. When do you need to see results? When is it time to adjust what you do? Don’t act too quickly, but we’ll talk about that later. The other thing you need to think about is the most important metric in collecting feedback, the participation ratio. That’s the amount of employees that provide you with feedback compared to all the employees. You’ll want to hear as many people as possible, not just a small group. And your employees will only dedicate their time if they believe that it’s not only empty words. So getting back on feedback is a must. Read more about that right here.


Completing the Feedback Cycle

When you talk about feedback, the last part of the word is very important: you have to get back on it. Collecting feedback correctly is only the first step. Handling it correctly is the second. Because no matter how genius the way in which you collect your feedback, if it isn’t followed by actions, it’s nothing more than a bad retrospective.

Don’t waste their time

For many people getting back on feedback is difficult and time consuming, especially on company level. It’s probably why it often gets neglected. There are surveys and big plans. And then… Nothing. It’s bad because it communicates you don’t appreciate your people. And if this happens more than once people stop trusting surveys. Or worse: everything from HR. That’s also something I experienced myself. I spend time filling in two pages of questions, I thought about it, worked on it and then… Nothing. I felt they wasted my time!


The Continuous Feedback Loop

Lately, I came across a couple of amazing organizations with smart ways to collect feedback. And that’s important, because feedback might be difficult, it’s important when working on a great company culture and employee engagement. When I ask HR people how they collect feedback they usually mention two methods: short watercooler talks and an yearly survey. Great efforts, but I’m sure there are better ways.

Ingredients for great feedback

Before we go on, let’s talk about the ingredients for good feedback. It’s the perfect balance between frequency and effort. Or how often do I give it and how much time will it cost me? The correlation between these two is quite simple: the higher the feedback frequency, the easier you should make it. Another ingredient is writing it down. It ensures there’s no ‘blur’ and the meaning is clear. And lastly: feedback should be a continuous process, people should know what to expect.


Round Table Meetups

What opportunities do our employees have to provide feedback?

It’s one of few questions which could easily help you to identify how healthy your organisation is. If your answer is “Well, we are open-minded. Our employees could always come to us and share what they don’t like” then I suggest you to review your approach on how you collect the feedback. Especially if there are more than 30 people in your company.


Anonymous Questions

Transparency in organisation is an exciting topic. How much transparency is needed? Could transparency be damaging even in a very healthful organisation? Buffer, a company widely known for their transparent approach to all processes and practices, learned through experiments that transparency could play badly in some fields.

For example, feedback. Providing fair, critical feedback is a tough thing for most of us (well, may be not for Dutch). Doing it in public makes it harder and even impossible in some cases. On one side, people giving feedback tend to hinder and reword the most harsh parts. On the other side, people receiving feedback tend to overreact and accept well-weighted and constructive criticism aggressively.

Having private one-to-one communication channel for feedback is a good idea. But what about company level? What if an employee wants to point out something or ask a question but is afraid of looking stupid? SC5 found a terrific solution to this problem.

Employees could post a question with /question command in any Slack channel and it appears as an anonymous question on a Trello board. As soon as the question is moved to Done, it pops up in open Slack channel along with an answer and a person who answered it.

Marjaana gives an example,

When somebody asks “Why didn’t we have donuts last Tuesday?” and I answers it, “Sorry I forgot”, it shows that Marjaana is responsible for that kind of stuff and she was just forgetful.

Laura adds a bit of clarification,

And not to blame Marjaana. It’s more about making clear who is in charge of what and encouraging people to discuss directly with her their likes and dislikes.

Creating a channel for anonymous feedback gives you an opportunity to learn more about your company and find new directions for improvement. No matter how transparent your company is.

SC5 is the fourth company joining Yay4Monday — a community of organisations which truly care about employees, their happiness and engagement. While we’re working on their profile, read stories from other companies. 

Futurice Ministry