One of the challenges that people face with growing a company is keeping a pulse on the team. Sure, there’s operations, finance, sales, marketing, etc. to worry about – but what about seeing how people generally feel? Team members are generally so head down or ‘busy‘ that they often don’t have time to come up for air.
Standard procedures for collecting feedback for companies might be quarterly or yearly, but waiting that long is often too late – especially for more urgent problems that need to be dealt with quickly.
I wanted to create an ongoing feedback process where there’s more of a ‘learn as we go’ approach. To be honest, I find waiting 90 to 365 days to give people a review can hurt a company because there’s just way too much going on. Keeping an ongoing dialogue helps facilitate information that can in turn spurt growth.
Here’s what we do to keep a pulse on things. Keep in mind that we also have distributed team members so keeping the dialogue going is even more important because some of us don’t see each other often.
1 on 1’s
Weekly 1-on-1’s help me gauge where my managers are. Is there a specific problem they’re facing? Perhaps it’s a disaster? Is there something I can help them with? What other ideas can we discuss?
It’s very important to treat these seriously. As in not cancel unless you absolutely have to.
There’s a lot of literature on 1-on-1 meetings so I’ll just keep this simple. Here’s the only thing you need to read on how to do 1-on-1’s.
Onto the tools.
We use a tool called 15Five and it sends people a list of questions each week to be answered. Think of it as 1-on-1’s that the leaders of the team can see. As CEO, I get the benefit of seeing every report within the company. That means it’s like I get to do 1-on-1’s with everyone in the company.
Here are some of the questions we ask each week:
- What topics would you like to see in our weekly Friday learning meetings? – since we’re a digital marketing agency, staying on top of our knowledge is important. We’re essentially selling knowledge so falling behind is really not an option. Being able to see what people want to learn helps us set up lessons ahead of time.
- What’s going well in your role? Any major wins this week? – everyone in the company is accountable for bringing results. If managers start to see a trend where people aren’t answering this question sufficiently, it’s time to talk to the team member to see how we can help.
- What challenges are you facing? How are you going to fix them and where do you need help? – this is the standard ‘are you blocked on anything? type of question. Even though I don’t directly manage everyone, I’ll still look for any areas where I can help unblock someone.
- Rate your happiness on a scale of 1-10 (10 being best). Why? Be honest. – if someone isn’t happy, it’s important to find out how we can help fix the problem. An unhappy team member leads to decreased productivity.
- What’s one thing the company could be doing better or differently? How would you do it? (monthly question) – management can’t have all the answers. Sometimes the best ideas come from people that are closest/most familiar with the situation and the solution is something the management team wouldn’t have spotted.
Here’s an example of the valuable feedback we gather each week:
So even though 15Five is great, there’s a problem with it – all answers are tied to a name. Sometimes, people aren’t keen on speaking their mind because they feel like it might create negative feelings and affect their future within the company.
So how do we get people to speak candidly without having to worry about that? We use TINYPulse.
Team members are sent one question a week. Just one. And it’s completely anonymous. No need to worry about your manager reprimanding you.
Example questions might be:
- What do you love about your job?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, h ow valued do you feel at work?
- With eyes closed and fingers crossed, can you recite your organization’s vision, mission, and cultural values?
But that’s not all, people can provide anonymous praise for other team members. We share these tidbits of praise with the entire team on our Monday all hands meetings to kick the week off on a positive note.
Learning where we stand on the happiness scale gets me thinking about how we can improve the overall work experience for my team. Perhaps the next step would be interviewing individuals (not just my managers) to see where the holes are. Perhaps I can dive back into 15Five and see if there are any areas where I need to investigate further. Lots of possibilities here.
Having some kind of measurement at least points me in the right direction as opposed to just going off of my gut and ‘estimating’ that ‘things are going better than ever’.
What gets measured gets managed.
Having weekly all hands meetings, 1-on-1’s and layering on helpful tools like 15Five and TINYpulse gives me a pulse on how the company is feeling. Looking at the financial statements tells me how the company is doing. Combine the two and you have a winning recipe for long term growth.
Image credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg
Disclaimer: As with any digital marketing campaign, your individual results may vary.