Improving feedback culture with Speedwraps
The Officevibe, an enterprise that provides tools to measure employee satisfaction and gives actionable tips to create a better workplace, have done an excellent work in its infographic, The Global Real Time State of Employee Engagement. They provide us real time statistics based on more than a million and two thousands data points collected from more than a hundred and fifty countries and one thousand organizations.
They believe that for an employee to be engaged, a few core things should be taken care of. They affirm that employees need to feel like they’re respected, that they’re part of the team, and that their ideas matter. Once that’s taken care of, they’ll be more likely to go above and beyond for their company and provide amazing service, come up with innovative ideas and help the company grow. The Officevibe believes that there are ten essential things that companies need to keep in mind when trying to improve employee engagement.
On their last update on March 2017, they showed that 32% of employees have to wait more than three months to get feedback from their managers. As a consultant and manager, I really believe that feedback is one of the most important parts of growing as an employee and it needs to be frequent in order to give results. I really like one-on-one sessions and informal bi-directional conversations to give and receive more regular small feedbacks from all my teams, and believe me, they love it.
But, to give feedbacks isn’t so easy and the Officevibe guys proved this in their report.
Jurgen Appelo, author of books like “How to Change the World” and “Management 3.0”, says that feedback needs to be part of our work every day and should be normal. In his books “#Workout” and “Managing for Happiness”, he affirms that researches confirm that performance appraisals usually destroy intrinsic motivation and team collaboration. He presents and encourage us to use Feedback Wraps to help people focus on both personal improvement and systematic improvement.
Jurgen explains that this practice is very similar to several other communication methods, such as Nonviolent Communication. He also says that the key is not to lay blame or get mad, but merely to make the other person aware of your context, your observations, your feelings, and your needs. And then you let them figure it out for themselves. Louise Brace described the feedback wraps steps at Happy Melly website as:
—Describe your context: To start your Feedback Wrap you must set your scene. Explain the elements which have influenced your feedback: the environment you find yourself in, the state of mind, and the expectations you had for a specific task or project;
— List your observations: Listing the observations you have made, from the eyes of an experimenter, or outsider. There is no opinion given, no emotional outburst. We just feedback facts and experience;
— Express your emotions: This part of feedback is used to connect with the employee involved and to show your concern for the overall result of the project or task. In some cases involving your own emotions can deflect against conflict;
— Sort by value: Adding an explanation about the value you perceive these improvements will have on the project;
— End with suggestions: Wrap it up with some helpful suggestions that will improve future performance. Always deliver suggestions in a positive way and offer assistance;
As an example of wrap, I like to use the text written by Jurgen at Forbes website:
— Describe your context: “I’m writing you while I’m packing for my vacation. Sorry about the brevity of this message.”;
— List your observations: “I checked out your event website and noticed there is a spelling error in my name on the keynote page.”;
— Express your emotions: “I felt a bit disappointed because I had spelled my name correctly in the materials I provided.”;
— Sort by value: “It is important to me that your attendees see my name spelled correctly; they might try to find more information about me.”;
— End with suggestions: “I hope someone can fix the mistake, and I will be happy to check any other information for accurateness if you like.”.
I also believe that feedback is too important to be left only to managers and Officevibe showed that too.
Recently I was involved in an interesting challenge to create and promote horizontal feedback culture in a software development team. The target was to create a trustworthy environment where each team member could give an honest and friendly feedback to each other. I started this process with individual quick conversations to improve punctual technical or soft skills. Those meetings were indispensable to show them the importance of frequent feedback to improve behavior.
After that, I complemented this process with monthly one-on-one sessions as a consolidation and complement of our informal conversations. I used these meetings to know more about employees motivation and the impact of organizational change in their intrinsic desires playing Moving Motivators game. These meetings were also used to create and maintain an individual development plan where each person reflects about actions to improve their own skills inside our workplace.
The next step was to create a trustful environment between team members to enable quality conversation, reinforcing a learning culture that enables people growth in areas relevant to their personal development goals. Speedback sessions help to promote specifically and relevant feedbacks from people they work with directly on daily basis. These group sessions consist of a quick peer conversations where each person gives and receives shortly feedbacks from their teammates. In general, I like to promote cycles of ten minutes conversation, where each person have five minutes to speak and five minutes to listen. Thanks Mayra Rodrigues from ThoughtWorks who introduce me to this technique in her facilitation workshop. ;)
On my last experience with this technique, I mixed it with Jurgen Appelo’s Feedback Wraps approach. I created a wrap card where some notes could be written previously to help delivering a better feedback between teammates. The card can also be considered as a valuable gift given from person to person which can be consulted to remember their excellence and improvement points, helping each person to reflect on some actions to improve himself in his continuous improvement plan.
To measure the effectiveness of our SpeedWrap session and team feelings about giving and receiving feedback among them, I like to run a checkout called one word before leaving at the end of the meeting. I also like to give some space to someone who wants explain why he/she chose that word and to give some feedback about the session.
That’s it, guys. I hope that you enjoy the SpeedWraps, a new technique created by me as a mix of Speedback and Management 3.0 Feedback Wraps. If you have some comments or suggestion, please, leave me a comment. :D