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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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For us developers, the hackfest is more about hacking. My projects were always simple. I didn’t want to be involved in projects that took all my time there. I just like to go there, create a simple project, have a sauna and a few beers. But there were really ambitious projects being implemented at hackfests.
Last year there were a couple of guys who created a doll with a motor rotating head which had a camera inside one of the eyes. They implemented a motion detection and a pattern recognition which recognises people walking by, and the doll followed them and would shout out stuff like “Idiot". It was a really interesting project. And a scary looking doll! It actually looked like a Chucky doll.
A couple of years ago, Happy Melly published a series of articles about a company called Futurice and how they were creating a workplace environment in which people loved to go to work. At the time I didn’t imagine for a minute that Futurice would become one of the first companies to join Yay4Monday. But join they did…
About a year ago I decided to go on a tour. For more than three months I travelled around visiting European tech companies, seeking out those that cared about the happiness and engagement of their employees. I was lucky to find a few of such kind, and what I found out about those companies sparked a lot interest.
People wanted an insight into how they work, why they work the way they do, and what types of practices and habits they had established...
It was 2012 when we decided to create the radio station, FutuRadio. We managed to easily get a short-length frequency permit for three weeks in the summer. We hired a person who knew the industry well, and we had people creating their own shows. There were one hour slots where someone would play music or would have talking shows and stuff like that. It was very nice.
It was a real radio station which was also broadcasted on the internet. Of course, we didn’t have content for 24 hours, but we repeated some stuff at nights. People would prepare music playlists.
It makes me laugh that my girlfriend works on the radio and she complains that she has actually heard me on the radio more than herself.
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.
There are different types of feedback. In most cases they need to be collected in different ways. To understand how the thing are going on a team level, daily or weekly team meetings are a great point to start with. However it may be not enough for a high-level feedback. For example, how the people are satisfied with an organisation in general.
A couple of day ago I wrote how SC5 collects an anonymous feedback. Being a nice practice it’s not the only one they have. SC5 found one more way...
During the interview one thing which impressed me was language the folks used. Our intentions and behaviour are reflected in and shaped by our words. Dream is an everyday word at Vincit.
Mikko spoke about dreams when he was describing the purpose of the company. Johanna spoke about dreams when she was discussing the hiring process. Pasi spoke about dreams while explaining how they form project teams. It is inspiring to hear the leaders of the company talking this way. It is even more inspiring to see that the company lives this way.
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?...
Every Wednesday afternoon we meet at the "What's Cooking" board with people from each team to talk about current "cooking" projects, upcoming projects and also about potential projects.
Someone (usually several people) from each team explains what is going on, where they might need help, and what has been successfully finished. Finished cards are put on a spike, like used to be done in restaurants and a bell is rung — also like in restaurants when the cook wants the waiters to come get the food for the guests. We try to connect topics and projects between teams as well. Anyone from other teams is welcome to listen, when one team talks about their projects.
Koodikoulu started as a private project by Juha Paananen, an employee at Reaktor, and became popular very fast.
The first public school was held in 2014, and all seats for the first course were reserved in under an hour. Since then children’s coding clubs have been opened in Tampere, Helsinki and Espoo regions.
We organised our first internal event in the middle of February, 2014, and have been running them regularly since then.
Several months ago there was a person who needed to be introduced to the end customer, a German company.
I was working on that project with Kyösti, who is one of our employees. And I was puzzled, “How am I going to introduce him to the customer?” It promised to be difficult with our randomly selected titles.
I had been working for some time at Nokia and I thought, “Ok, the toughest guys in Nokia are called principal architects”. So I introduced Kyösti to the customer as a principal architect. And the German employee said that he was an executive architect.
Next time, Kyösti will be an executive architect.
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 ...
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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...
One funny thing about the trip to Iceland was the Silver Kuitunen Cross. During our foreign trips we usually have a couple of planned events for everyone and the rest of the time is free for adventurous discovery. That time, some people wanted to explore the places around so they rented a car and one person had to be a driver. It was Toni Mikkola who drove for a whole day.
He actually sacrificed himself as a driver. Not only was it quite a long drive, but the passengers were also a bit challenging. Afterwards, he was given a Silver Cross of Honour, called Kuitunen Cross, with a great diploma and everything. I guess as it was given once now, it may be given to another person later if the person achieves something great. That person should really put himself or herself on the line for a bunch of colleagues.
Once a year we have a creative hackathon, that we call a “Creatifair”: everyone in the Ministry Group is asked to participate but they have just 48 hours to form small teams and work on their ideas. There are only a few simple rules: it’s really only 48 hours.
There is a fixed budget, and at the end, each team has to hold a 10 minute presentation in which they explain their idea and show their results. So far the outcomes have included prototypes for several different software products, new furniture for our lounge, a steampunk marble run, an idea for our own beer brand, a song and a horror movie.