How to gain valuable feedback from your own team.
This post is Part 2 in our series on “3 Things Every Successful Business Does.” If you missed Part 1, CLICK HERE.
The Business Internal Scorecard, as executed by our Team here at Vision Consulting Group, is something of a hybrid between an employee engagement tool, and a collaboration tool. It creates a feedback loop for both areas. The feedback it provides may be used for navigational and operational purposes.
Often, as business owners, we tend to believe that we stay deeply in touch with our teams. We think that we know what the team wants, know what the team knows, understand what is important to the team, etc. Others of us may even feel these things are of no importance to running a successful business. (If you fall into the latter category, please take a moment to read this article from Gallup: http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/163130/employee-engagement-drives-growth.aspx, pertaining to the sheer financial benefits of engaged employees. If you’re not interested on a socioeconomic level, at least consider what the data indicates about the financial impacts to your organization.) In between these two poles lies the typical business owner. We see the value of having the feedback but figure “Hey, we work together every day! If the team has something to say, they’ll say it!”.
Unfortunately, many times we have a very haphazard system for gathering this information, or we have no system at all. We just assume that we have all of the above-mentioned information and insights. Like many things, we only need a little structure to GREATLY improve our results!
Okay, here’s a practical outline of the basics of creating a feedback system – an Internal Scorecard. Think of this like you would a customer survey, except in this case, it’s not for your customers it’s for your team members!
Here are 4 key components to a good internal scoring or feedback system:
- Anonymity from the top executive or owner (or at the VERY least – asylum from retribution). It is ABSOLUTELY IMPERATIVE that each team member be allowed to speak freely about things which might be difficult for the owner or top exec to receive.
- A physical questionnaire in some form. There’s something powerful about the team member writing - or at least typing - in their answers, then holding them physically as they discuss them with an interviewer. An electronic document to be printed and filled in works very well. The basic outline – no more than 5 questions, ideally 2-4. These questions should be very open ended and answering them is not optional. For some team members, this will be difficult and they will tell you what they think you want to hear. For others, the opportunity to speak freely will result in a gushing of information - much of which will be of tremendous value if properly synthesized and utilized. Simple questions such as “What do you love about your job at ABC Company?”, “What would you do differently if you were in charge?”
- A one on one, behind closed doors, meeting to go over the answers to the survey. Ideally this meeting would be conducted by a third-party, outside of the organization. This meeting will often take an hour or more. The first 30+ minutes will be an attempt to convince the team member that their opinions really ARE valued and that they will NOT be penalized for speaking freely, the last 30+ will be the speaking freely that ensues.
- Synthesize the information from the team and analyze looking for patterns. Anytime a significant percentage of people (or number of people in large organizations) mention the same positives OR the same negatives, you have cues to help you determine how to make your organization better. LISTEN TO THEM!
The above information is by no means exhaustive, but it gives an idea of the basics of an internal scoring system. Additional value components of the Internal Scorecard can include deeper insights on the organization’s customers, products, and competitive insights. These would be tangential to the operational components outlined above, but very often insights come to the surface during the open communication opportunity provided by the process.
One final note on anonymity or safe asylum. Anonymity is absolutely superior to an attempt to guarantee safety. The only thing that truly guarantees a lack of retribution IS anonymity. Options for anonymity are to bring in a third party, or at the very least, use an executive VERY near the top of the organization (not the owner or top exec) to collect and synthesize the information and conduct the interviews. The purest form of feedback would be that collected by a 3rd party. There is a reason that bosses go “under cover” in their organizations. They want to know what’s REALLY happening and what people REALLY think and want. 😊
As always, should you run into a snag while creating or implementing your Internal Scorecard system, we’re here to help you get it done. Every phase is available as an al a carte service, and of course we also offer the entire process “turn-key”.