Virtuous Employee Feedback Loop

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My company buuteeq has grown to over 110 employees in 5 offices around the world, so a huge component of my time/role as ceo has been focused on “culture”–how do we create a consistent best-practice culture in multiple offices (while growing rapidly), how do we gather feedback and input from everyone on the team, and how do we communicate and implement changes based on the feedback we receive…

We’ve been using an amazing tool called TinyPulse for over a year now, and while it is not the only mechanism to manage the “pulse” of our culture (a lot of 1:1 coffees at TopPot Donuts down the street is part of my weekly routine to spend quality time focused on listening and responding to team member questions in person), TinyPulse is the systematic breadth process by which we receive regular employee feedback and drive a “virtuous cycle” that repeats itself regularly.  TinyPulse asks a weekly question by email (automatically), gathers the feedback anonymously (usually between 50-80% of employees respond on any given week), and presents dashboards that I and our VP of Talent review periodically throughout the week as data is being gathered.

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Each week’s question generates a summary of yes/no, 1-10 scale, or open response questions, AND a subjective detail commentary (if respondent provides) which I can then respond to via a private message while maintaining anonymity.  This leads to very different feedback loops than what we hear in person or over email.

I thought it would be valuable, and transparent (one on my most cherished values!), to share some of the data we’ve gathered in the last 6 months.  This data represents “feedback”, not judgement, so there is absolutely no shame in sharing what at times looks like mediocre scores/responses.  I’ve written a brief summary of “what we took from the feedback” and “what we did to respond” to illustrate how the data drove our management team behavior.

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Takeaway: we can do better!  Some of the atomic comments suggested some of the managers were sensitive to receiving constructive feedback; we had a discussion with all managers about best practices and how to engage in discussions that would surface constructive feedback from their team.

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Takeaway: Totally unacceptably low!  Even though the “benchmark” (53%) (what other companies that use TinyPulse received on average response) was even farther below our score (71%), we aspire to more transparency in this (and most) areas.  As we dug through the data we realized we hadn’t developed “career stage models” and communicated those to team members.  As a young company we had done a good job recruiting people to join the team but hadn’t yet matured into providing a roadmap for careers.  This was really great feedback it led to a kick-off of many projects which we are now rolling out (took about 3 months to put in place).

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Takeaway: The comments were valuable as they pointed to specific growth opportunities that were being recognized, and others that were being asked to be opportunities.

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Takeaway: This question felt like a reflection on how well we were sharing the TinyPulse data itself!  When we first started using TinyPulse we would share the feedback each week and discuss comments and then open for public discussion during our weekly friday wrap meeting (held 4-5pm to end the week).  This made the visibility of the feedback 100% transparent.  We gradually started to do the open discussions less frequently and moved the sharing of the data to our Google+ community and email threads, which i sense was less visible.  There are 2 key elements to the feedback loop, (1) to share what is being said so everyone has visibility into how their feedback compares to that of the broader team, and (2) for everyone to see what is done in response to the feedback.  This creates a “feedback tax” that I think would scare off a lot of management teams, but i really want to rise to the challenge, even as the data grows in volume and complexity.  Blogging about the data here is in part motivated by this very feedback–trying to find multiple ways to drive the transparency!

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Takeaway:  We’re doing pretty well, but there’s always room for improvement.  We used the opportunity to revisit all of our benefits and our VP of HR gave examples of comparable benefits of companies in our industry/size/market, so really we “re-pitched” ourselves in hopes of getting more visibility to just how good our benefits actually are!

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Takeaway:  This is a perpetual rich channel of feedback, eg: the TinyPulse gathers lots of insights from the teams about office furniture, seating configurations, meals that we bring in for catered lunches, the kitchen/snacks, morale events, etc. etc.  So rather than look at the score here, the really interesting takeaways are the comments that highlight what is top of mind “next on the list” of things to work on to make the office environment better.Image

Takeaway:  Sometimes you just have to declare victory.  This is one of those.  It turns out that on just about any “scale of 1-10” survey, the results tend to come in at an average of about 8.x.  We talked with the team about the different perspectives of “what does a 8 mean”, and in many cases 8 is “excellent” and in others “10” is the equivalent.  So when the team as a whole is coming in at 8.5, we felt that this is an area we were performing ahead of the curve.  Again, not declaring victory outright, but since we are getting this type of feedback WEEKLY, sometimes the pulse feedback insights less urgency/reaction from the management team.

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Takeaway:  Great reflection of our core value of “never stop growing”, always want to see team members thinking of ways they can do better, and the comments overwhelming reflected specific areas for personal growth.

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Takeaway:  Similar to the feedback about work environment, this question had very specific recommendations for different processes, training, tools, etc.–super actionable.

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Takeaway:  Probably the most important feedback of all–this is exactly the entire point of using TinyPulse, to drive transparency, virtuous feedback loop, and to establish a really great culture in close collaboration across the team.  Thankfully, this score (8.7) is the highest score we’ve ever received in the tool.  Lots more work to do on all these subjects every day of the week for years to come…  Several more examples below, i’m out of gas to comment on them atomically, but the graphics speak for themselves and i’m happy to answer any questions in the comments or at my email, twitter, facebook, linkedin, or google + pages!

Team 29agosto13

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Team ROWise Guys

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