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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

Principles of Successful Onboarding Process

Each organisation is unique. The mixture of multiple parameters such as clients, business goals, values and markets makes it difficult and even impossible to apply directly an onboarding process of one company to another. Nevertheless, looking at the processes at Futurice, Vincit, Netlight and Ministry I could identify some similarities.

What I struggled with was the understanding why they exist. Until I bumped into a great book “Learning 3.0” by Alexandre Magno. The book goes deep explaining how human brain learns new things and why many existing practices are not effective.

Reading it I realised that onboarding is a learning process.

Onboarding is a learning process.

New employees learn about the values, structures, processes, colleagues and products an organisation has. The organisation learns about the values, habits, skills and behaviour of new employees.

What if we look at the principles of learning process in modern complex environments and see how they apply to real life examples? Sounds like a plan to me!

Let’s go.


Building a Network

In my previous post, The First Day is Too Late, I pointed out that early access to internal communication channels decreases fear and increases confidence of new employees. One of several reasons it happens is that people get to know their future colleagues before actually start working with them. They find out about their interests, skills, habits and communications styles. They begin to build their own network.

Creating many strong connections inside an organisation should be a goal of any onboarding process. New connections help you to learn about the life of organisation much faster. They introduce you to other colleagues and share information on what might be interesting to you. They also help you to get involved in multiple activities.

For example, there’s a movie night on your third day in a company. You read a company-wide announcement on Slack and check the list of participants. You don’t know anyone there. Damn! Being a bit shy you’ve decided to stay and work even though you really want to go.  Luckily, Laura whom you met just the day before during the lunch come to you and say, “We’re going to a cinema tonight. Wanna go? There’ll be a couple of guys you definitely need to know.” The only thing you need to do is to say, “Sure, I’m in.”

At Futurice many events are organised for new employees during the first three months of trial period and onboarding. Of course these events include training and educational sessions. There are also introduction meetings when people from different parts of the company and communities come and talk about what’s happening there. And informal gatherings organised especially for new employees to talk to each other, meet older members of the organisation, eat some food and drink beer.

At Netlight new employees get a list of 10-15 colleagues they are suggested to have lunch with. Through the series of lunches they meet new people, learn about the specialities and hobbies of other colleagues and get many advices where to go, what group to join and whom else to have lunch with.

According to this article in Harvard Business Review,

“Research shows that workers are happier in their jobs when they have friendships with co-workers. Employees report that when they have friends at work, their job is more fun, enjoyable, worthwhile, and satisfying. Gallup found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50% and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.”

Helping new employees to make valuable connections and, may be, friends is a must-have goal for any onboarding process. New employees adapt faster, get more from company from the first day and are more satisfied and productive.