Insights from Slite's Journey.
Feedback, ah… what a loved and feared word. It can either be the door to growth or the door to loathe. We have been receiving feedback ever since we can remember; it's the way we learn, the way we get graded, the entry to opportunities and disappointments. Feedback moves us, whether forward or backward, yet, most importantly, feedback is the fuel for personal and professional growth. And talking about the latter, feedback is paramount for a company's sustainable development.
A team without feedback looks like that fresh herbs indoor garden you've been trying to grow for the past month, but you keep forgetting to water it, so it's dull, half-dead, and ultimately useless. Teams need feedback to develop ideas, cultivate motivation, learn from mistakes, improve processes, and iterate on successes. Gallup shares a fascinating insight:
All of this sounds incredibly inspirational, but let's be honest: cultivating a feedback culture, though powerful and propelling, is a challenging task. Especially remote teams, where the opportunities for micro-interactions are virtually reduced to zero. And that's why we are writing this blog. We want to share with you everything we've tried at Slite to embrace a culture of feedback. We will delve into what worked and what didn't and share the nitty-gritty of what it truly looks like to implement a feedback culture.
How frustrating is it when your company preaches a culture that not even your own manager follows? We are aware of the importance of managers as leaders in shaping a feedback-driven culture. It's clear to us: Managers can make or break a team. That's why we decided to try supporting managers with coaching and development that would help them create a robust environment. We also have yet to do this alone; we hired an external company, tmcglobal, that helped us get unbiased guidance for managers. A cornerstone of this approach has been investing heavily in 1:1s and feedback sessions. We hope this will trickle down, showing that leaders embody the principles we advocate.
We have our own recipe for this one. We approach performance reviews like an F1 race; we all have our goals, but to reach them, we need to pitch-stop a few times to make sure our gear is top quality.
The first stop happens after the first month. We book an initial touchpoint to align expectations and encourage feedback exchange. Attention to "red flags" at this stage!!
This first chat is never about only employee performance; we are looking for fresh-eyes feedback on the product, understand their experience so far, and also take this moment to share the manager's and the employee's first impressions as well. We want this feedback to be as transparent as possible, and that's why the insights related to the product are shared across the team to build trust and encourage product improvements.
The next official stop would be in the 4th month, and from then onwards, we book performance reviews at 6-month intervals. These are crucial to encourage dialogue and track performance, growth, and development. These chats are important for managers and employees to collaborate closely, explore advancement, and address challenges.
We are all in this together! Feedback is powerful and can be transformative for teams and individuals; that's why we decided to dedicate a space to launch a few workshops in our last team offsite. These workshops were all about emphasizing the essence of feedback and setting up straight when it comes to distinguishing between constructive and unhelpful feedback. We learned about non-violent communication (NVC) and the empowerment of team members to articulate feedback effectively.
Feedback isn't a one-way street. We know that engaging employees is vital for the company's health. That's why we launched surveys across the company that help us gain visibility into team dynamics. We have experimented with various approaches ranging from individual 1:1 interviews all the way to weekly/biweekly pulse surveys. However, lately, we have settled in with quarterly engagement surveys to strike a balance between frequency and depth since we want the feedback to remain relevant and actionable within a reasonable time frame and without being invasive.
We are a remote team, and for us, making sure that we are creating a safe space that promotes talks across people and teams is undoubtedly one of our most important quests. That's why we also support ourselves with resources that help us stay in the loop of the latest knowledge in this area, and we wanted to share with you our top 3 picks:
Our journey in feedback culture is still ongoing. We are already preparing new ways in which we can continue fostering a space where feedback is natural and valuable. Here are some exclusive insights:
1. Informal Feedback: We have plans to conduct informal feedback sessions to equip employees with a platform to practice giving feedback with no strings attached.
2. Performance Reviews 2.0: Good questions make good feedback. Thus, we are fine-tuning our performance review processes to make sure that the feedback collected is meaningful and actionable.
3. Manager Round-Tables: Another project for us to try in the future. We want to facilitate regular interactions between managers to create a collaborative space for skill-sharing and practicing difficult feedback discussions.
Creating a feedback culture is a process. We are on a journey to cultivating a space where feedback is the means that serves as a beacon of inspiration. The path to perfection is far from being clearly defined, but we have something clear:
Keysa Yánez is the People Operations Lead at Slite. When not planning amazing Offsites, she can be found exploring British Columbia, hanging with her pup, and making delicious vegan food.