Making Feedback Faster—And More Actionable
A feedback system designed to be collaborative had become burdensome. TGP used our model to learn what was and wasn’t working and change course.
The Gathering Place (TGP) had a process for collecting and providing annual feedback to their employees. The problem? Feedback took a disproportionately long time to complete, and often wasn’t geared toward improvement. TGP worked with staff to understand what was working with the current system, and what wasn’t. Its new system takes time constraints into consideration, and gives staff a more flexible way of discussing performance with their peers.
Thinking with SEE
The Gathering Place (TGP) recognized that they had to shorten the appraisal process to increase staff effectiveness, but also ensure that the appraisal results were useful so staff felt their contributions were meaningful and usable. A process that gives genuine feedback also improves meaningful action by showing staff they are respected and listened to by those around them. TGP also wanted the feedback to communicate opportunities for staff to explore, expand their work breadth, and find novel ways to prioritize and reorganize their projects; all components of the SEE tenet of model-building, or our need to make sense of the world.
The Small Experiment
TGP asked staff members what parts of the current appraisal system they liked, which parts they found to be cumbersome, and what they would like to see in a new appraisal system. The re-designed format no longer requires staff to complete one for every coworker. It incorporates both some ranking/multiple choice answers where the staff found them appropriate as well as open-ended qualitative questions. The appraisals are now done on a quarterly basis, rather than annually, and are combined with weekly one-on-one meetings with supervisors during which staff can discuss their performance and other topics.
Staff found that shifting some of the appraisal responsibilities away from written form and into the weekly meetings provided them with timely feedback. They also liked that the switch wasn’t an additional burden since it was part of their regular meetings. The new appraisal system allows for feedback from non-supervisors and other departments, giving staff a more holistic view of their performance. The newly written appraisals have not yet been distributed, but the staff is excited about the drafts and proposals they have seen, as well as current changes.
Experiment for Yourself
Recognize that feedback needs to be an ongoing process of which a formal appraisal is a piece. Assess your current formal appraisal process based on staff input. Ask staff “How long would you be willing to spend on an appraisal?” or “Did you feel like the feedback you got after appraisals helped you move forward?” Determine what kind of review would be best: paper vs online, questionnaire vs multiple-choice, qualitative vs quantitative, etc. Consider combining approaches as well, because some information is better gathered in discrete form than descriptive form. With this information, create an appraisal that is concise, yields feedback which conveys that staff have been heard, and shows staff where they can become more effective. Further enhance meaningful action by incorporating the feedback and next steps into ongoing supervision and staff support.