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The social business school of employee feedback

01.19.2013
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employee feedbackFeedback is something we as human beings love, especially when it's positive feedback.  A year or so ago some research found that we prefer receiving a thank you than having sex.  This love of feedback is arguably one of the principle reasons why we're so addicted to social media.  Feedback hits us in the face literally every time we use our favourite social networks.

Which is great, except many of us now expect that kind of environment in our workplaces, and most of us are ending up pretty disappointed.  Performance reviews are typically an annual, or perhaps bi-annual, event.  Some may be limited to you and your boss, others may involve colleagues as well via the 360 degree process.  As they're usually restricted to these annual set piece events however you often lose the immediacy of things.  If you did some great work for Jim in July for instance, is he going to remember to give you accurate feedback in December?

Social media tools are however invading the workplace, and one very pleasing consequence of this is that they are enabling us to give feedback on a much more regular basis.  One app that is trying to do just that is called 15Five.

The software revolves around a five question survey that employees are asked to complete on a weekly basis.  15Five suggest that the survey takes just 15 minutes to write, and five minutes to read (hence the name).

“We’re taking this very complicated challenge of gathering feedback from employees and generating it in a way that they enjoy doing, and doesn’t take much effort or time,” says 15Five founder David Hassell. “And we make sure the most critical information flows to the right people in the organization.”

The questions are chosen by the CEO and can range from things such as 'how is morale?' to 'what's the biggest challenge you've faced this week?'.  Employees are free to make answers as long or as short as they wish, and are encouraged to leave both positive and negative feedback, depending on their circumstances.

Department managers then review the reports written by their team, raising a red flag against specific responses in order to construct a larger report for the CEO.  You can see an example of the output below.

It looks like a nice and streamlined approach to writing and collecting regular feedback.  It does of course require employees to feel comfortable giving negative as well as positive feedback to their bosses.  It's usefulness will be limited if managers still aren't getting the real picture, despite the more frequent feedback.

Republished with permission