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The importance of the feedback culture for startups and their employees

Written by Alana Team
on August 27, 2020

The feedback culture is crucial for a high-performance team to evolve continuously, and is defined by the habit of offering continuous and constructive feedback to employees. The challenge, however, is to make the process natural and structured.

After all, there is no point in having excellent recruitment, hiring, and onboarding processes, and then not establishing quality parameters for the technical execution and cultural adjustment of the company's employees.

Feedback is an essential factor for the professional's daily evolution and, consequently, for activities and projects to be carried out with the maximum organization.

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According to a survey about feedback from the Gallup research consultancy, conducted in the United States, people who have frequent conversations with their managers are three times more engaged than those who do not receive feedback.

In this blog post, we are going to address how startups can benefit from the feedback culture, and also share some practices we apply at Alana AI  to make the feedback process more effective.

Learn more about:

  1. The impact of the feedback culture on a business
  2. Performance evaluation practices
  3. How to create and disseminate a feedback culture
  4. Key performance and feedback management tools

Impact of feedback culture on business

Creating good people management and development processes can be just as vital to a business as sales management. 

People are the ones who generate results, and, therefore, their development must be stimulated so that they perform tasks in the best possible way, contributing to the growth of the organization and their careers.

Startups, especially, deal daily with high expectations regarding results and growth, and for that reason, they need to be more agile than traditional companies when reviewing their processes and points for improvement.

Among the main benefits of the culture of continuous feedback for startups are:

Keeping high standards for people management

Feedback is a fundamental methodology so that startup managers can take stock of employees and teams' performance as a whole. It allows them to make better decisions about leadership adjustments, qualifications, and training of professionals.

Since startups usually work with leaner and more optimized teams, they need to extract the best from the team's professionals, while at the same time developing their potential.

Here at Alana AI, we learned that the continuous practice of feedbacks leads to an increase in the following indicators:

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Internal Communication and Collaboration

Startups also tend to promote much more integration between different departments if compared to traditional companies. In this context, teams that collaborate in the execution of projects can be much more effective if employees have the habit of offering and receiving continuous feedback. 

In addition to improving internal communication, feedback reduces time in resolving issues between areas and ensures better alignment between different parts. 

Planning

For startups, the adaptation of internal processes happens very quickly, and so they have a lot to gain by establishing constant feedbacks. Thus, they can maintain their project planning and results, but without neglecting points of attention and team improvement.

Moreover, this practice is important for each individual's career planning and development.

At Alana AI, we have observed that recurring feedbacks have helped to streamline processes and ensure that each collaborator reaches their maximum potential within the company, considering technical and cultural aspects.

Performance evaluation practices

It is common to see traditional companies conduct performance evaluations with employees only a few times a year - such as quarterly or every six months. This frequency is not recommended for a startup, which needs its employees to be constantly improving and improving their work.

For this reason, we adopted a biweekly feedback tool, 15Five, in addition to having weekly meetings to align squads, teams, and leaders. Besides, we hold fortnightly meetings to verify OKRs.

We will talk more about our processes, but first, let's explore some methods of performance evaluation. 

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linha-min-1Common feedback management methods

Receiving or giving feedback is not always comfortable for everyone, but it is what makes the difference to promote better collaboration and performance among employees. Whether positive or negative, we always see the exchange of feedback as a learning process and seek to evolve from it.

Among the most widely adopted feedback management methods are:

Self-evaluation

In this type of evaluation, the employee is the one who first analyzes his or her strengths and weaknesses. Those who know themselves well can better deal with external opinions and self-analyze how to improve professionally.

This type of evaluation is usually divided into two phases:

  1. The person makes a self-evaluation
  2. Manager and employee meet to talk about the points raised in the self-assessment

At Alana AI, our employees are invited every two weeks to reflect on their contributions to the company and then receive suggestions from technical and cultural managers on how to improve their performance.

90º or direct evaluation

This method is more linear, where the manager evaluates each individual on the team and then holds individual meetings to talk about their perceptions. The human resources team can assist at that time and determine which indicators and behaviors should be addressed by the leader.

180º or joint evaluation

The dynamics of the 180º assessment is more open and consists of conducting feedback from the leader to followers and vice versa. In this model, the manager does not need to evaluate the team in advance, he can only define points to be discussed with each person. Moreover, he must also be prepared to hear constructive criticism from team members.

This process is interesting because it allows employees to give feedback about the business and present their perceptions about the progress of projects. 

In the tool we use, for example, employees are also invited to describe how the CEO could help them improve their work, in addition to answering other questions. Managers can also request individual meetings, which both can discuss the pertinent points concerning the feedback.

360º evaluation

This option is more laborious and, perhaps, conflicting, as many opinions are taken into account. On the other hand, it offers teams and employees a broad view of the team's performance and the employee's performance. 

Following this model, each professional is evaluated by all the people he works with, in addition to making a self-assessment. As this is a more complex strategy, it is important to have a well-structured e process well-structured before starting it.

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How to spread an effective feedback culture in startups

No company can establish a structured feedback process from one day to the next, so it is important to create a plan of action that encourages practice.

Some examples of what can be done:

Stimulating open and transparent communication

The first step in encouraging continuous feedback is to create an environment open to opinions and maintain direct communication channels between areas, employees, and managers.

At Alana, we have the goal of ensuring that at least 60% of the communication is made on the team's channel so that conversations openly take place. This lessens the fear that some people have of sharing information, something that is essential for building a healthy and productive organizational culture.

 

Regular meetings

Another way of stimulating communication and bringing people together is the practice of periodic meetings between teams and also between managers and employees.

They are relevant for information to be cohesively shared and within the proper timing - especially for startups. There is no point in giving constructive feedback after months that a particular situation has happened, for example 

 

Fortnightly assessments 

One way to ensure continuous feedback is to establish weekly, fortnightly, or monthly rituals for this. For agile companies, such as startups, biweekly assessments are excellent for ascertaining learning points for sprints, as the execution periods of activities are called in agile methodologies. 

As mentioned, we established the 15Five platform as a hub for biweekly assessments, which in addition to facilitating the measurement of organizational climate, also helps in self-assessment and interaction between people on the same team.

 

Feedback training

In addition to teaching employees about the topic, it is important to show good feedback practices to reduce the possibility of problems related to aggressive communication, for example.

It is also valid to train leaders to mediate internal feedback from the team when someone from human resources is not available.

Feedback techniques

There are some options for communication techniques and performance evaluation that can be used by startups to train managers. The idea is that feedbacks are as fair and exempt as possible, always taking into account measurable attributes. Here are some techniques:

Situation, Behavior, and Impact (SBI)

To give feedback to a colleague or collaborator, you can take into account three main elements. It is important to describe:

  1. the situation: in what occasion and environment did something happen (positive or negative)
  2. behavior: what happened, directly and concisely
  3. the result: what was the impact of the behavior (positive or negative)

Sandwich Feedback

This model is suggested for when  feedback is about  negative points of the work.  

It works as follows: the manager starts with something positive about the employee, makes a hook for the point that needs to be improved, and praises something that is positive and can help the person to evolve.

In that model, the negative point is mentioned between two positive points.

 

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Feedback management tools

Technology solutions have helped startups and large companies to structure feedback strategies.

We made a list of five tools for people management, performance evaluation, and feedback.

TinyPulse

This software is focused on employee management and can be used to improve team engagement, as it allows the creation of feedback questionnaires. The tool can analyze responses and generate reports, without identifying employees.

It is also used to encourage small tasks to be celebrated and to send thanks to co-workers.

15Five

As already mentioned, we use this solution at Alana AI to facilitate and leverage the company's participatory culture. It has been essential in the approach and management of remote teams, since it can be integrated with internal communication platforms, such as Slack.

The premise of the tool is that it takes only 15 minutes to answer the questionnaire, both from the employee's point of view, individually, and from the leaders' point of view.

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Impraise

Impraise offers performance evaluation resources, quantitative and qualitative feedback, and the possibility to interact with colleagues. It stands out for its functionality that allows it to list skills necessary for a given function, in addition to crossing the feedback information about such skills, following the development of the employee.

6Q

This tool invites company employees to answer six questions per week, chosen by managers from a 6Q database or customized according to the needs of each team. It also offers the option to send compliments to colleagues to acknowledge work done during a certain period, also relying on quantitative reports.

Does your company have a good environment for feedback?

Giving consistent and aggregate feedback to employees depends on the formation of healthy communication habits within companies. 

Startups are constantly reevaluating their team practices and performance, which is why creating and maintaining a feedback culture is paramount. 

At Alana AI, we seek to create a healthy environment for the exchange of feedback, so that we can attract, retain, and develop the best talents. Only then will we be able to grow even more in the disputed technology and artificial intelligence market.

Do you want to know more about Alana AI and our products? Click here and understand how we are using artificial intelligence to improve marketing.

 

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