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Why it is time to democratise feedback

24th Apr 2017
Questback
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Organisations understand the importance of listening to feedback from their people – whether they are employees, customers or market research respondents. However collecting, analysing and acting on feedback has traditionally been a large project, involving significant resources and time. Because of this it has only been carried out infrequently, such as through annual employee surveys.

While this gives some insight, it is often out of date by the time it is actioned, meaning it doesn’t support real-time decision making or allow organisations to target new opportunities as they appear. Equally importantly, due to the resources it requires, feedback has been seen as a top down project – led by a department such as HR or communications, following strict guidelines and controls. This means that middle managers are not involved directly in the process – except for receiving reports on their team and actions to complete at the end of the process, many months after the feedback has been carried out. They can feel disengaged and that the initiative doesn’t meet their requirements or help them manage their teams better.

Given the importance of listening and acting on what people are saying, many organisations are embracing a new approach – democratising feedback by adding new ways of putting it at the heart of how everyone in the organisation operates. This helps create an insight-driven culture that is open, innovative and continually looks to improve.

Democratising feedback involves bringing together three ways of operating:

1. Centrally driven surveys
It is vital that organisations continue to collect feedback from the whole company, in order to gauge engagement levels and to unlock new ideas. However, the old method of carrying out a single, annual survey can be significantly improved and new ways of listening added. By using a single technology platform for all feedback, including the annual survey, it can be made more efficient, faster and linked to action planning. Cutting the time between collection, analysis and action will make the results more usable, and by switching to digital channels (such as mobile), instead of paper, costs can be significantly reduced.

The same platform can underpin newer, more regular ways of collecting employee insight, including pulse surveys with specific groups of staff (such as departments, countries or by function), which provide an up to the minute snapshot of their concerns. Employees can also be asked for feedback at key touchpoints in the employee journey, such as after joining or onboarding, as well as following events such as training sessions.

All of this data needs to be collected, analysed and, most importantly, communicated to management, so the central team responsible for feedback should ensure that it is delivering reports in ways that are easy for business managers to understand and act upon, such as through interactive, real-time dashboards linked to action planning.

By making central feedback collection more efficient, and by introducing new ways of listening, companies can create an open, insight-led culture that demonstrates the benefits of employee feedback to the bottom line.

2. On-Demand
The central approach provides a backbone to feedback and ensures that regular and scheduled surveys are both efficient and meaningful. However, managers themselves need the ability to collect feedback on a local level, whether that is on their own performance, on changes they have made, on meetings or product launches. Having to put in a request to the central team to run a survey on their behalf is time-consuming and resource-intensive, meaning that in many organisations managers simply carry out feedback exercises independently. This leads to silos of data, inconsistent initiatives, the risk of over-surveying and sees any insight remaining at a local level.

On-demand feedback initiatives let managers collect feedback when they want, themselves, without needing to wait or involve the central team. Based on the same platform that underpins regular surveys, on-demand makes it easy for managers to launch their own surveys quickly, collect and provide understandable results, all while following corporate templates and guidelines. The result? Managers are empowered, information and insight is available across the company, and best practice is always followed and shared.

3. Always-On
The third step in the democratisation of feedback extends the ability to share their views to everyone in the company, at any time. This is an immensely powerful way to build an open, transparent organisation as everyone can contribute to improvement by sharing their views and knowledge, whatever their role or level.

At Questback, we’ve introduced always-on internally through our Employee Insight platform. It allows every employee to provide their feedback and ideas through a simple to use, mobile friendly software platform. It helps ensure that employees are mobilised and feel empowered to give their ideas on any subject they want, from the largest to the smallest. Employees simply log on, select a topic and then rate how they believe the company is performing in that area while also suggesting corrective actions for improving the business. Comments are automatically logged, followed up and responded to.

More than 3,800 dialogues took place in the first six months – an average of over 12 per employee. Of these 10-15% have resulted in immediate changes, while others have been parked for future follow up. What is vital is that every suggestion results in a dialogue between staff and relevant senior managers – nothing is ignored. Results can be broken down and analysed by country, department and office, providing Questback with a real-time picture of engagement and mobilisation.

The democratising feedback approach extends the value of listening to employees across the organisation and allows all levels to benefit from insight, while ensuring consistency and efficiency through a single platform. Everyone feels they have a voice, creating a feedback-driven organisation that makes better, faster decisions; has more committed, engaged, aligned and loyal staff, and is more competitive, flexible and agile.

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