Tag Archives: continuous feedback

How to make Agile teams, more agile

How to make Agile Team more efficient
Agile Team in action

Agile methodology emerged as a response to a “crisis situation” of the conventional Waterfall Method of software development. The Waterfall Method, owing to its sequential nature, works in steps on a client requirement and by the time the product is ready to be shipped, the requirement might have changed. This could mean client dissatisfaction and ultimately revenue loss for the software development firm.

Agile assumes an approach that is time-boxed and has “continuous delivery” of usable code. The teams that work on Agile Methodology review, test and reevaluate the project collaboratively with the client and make any changes that may be required. This prevents any end-of-the-project frustrations and heartburns. Also, the velocity of the Agile team is much faster due to the prioritizations of product features and constant communication within the team, as it happens in “Daily Standups”.

The Agile team comes together to work on a project efficiently through a process, what theorists call as the Tuckman’s Five Stages of Development:

Tuckman's Stages of Group Development - Agile Teams
Agile Team goes through 5 stages of development

Once the team reaches the Performing Stage, the team really does efficient development. They come together well, trust each other and start delivering as a unit.

It is important for the teams to stay unchanged and go through the stages of Development together for them to be efficient and effective.

The triad of Agile teams viz. Make, Sell and Operate – across the organization also collaborate to complete the software development process.

Agile Teams
Triad of Agile Teams

One of the cornerstone for an Agile team to be effective is the amount of communication that is needed within as well as across the connected Agile teams of “Make-Sell-Operate” in the organization. Furthermore, one needs to identify the stage of development and use the appropriate communication strategy for that stage.

Continuous feedback on a real-time basis which is authentic and relevant can shorten the duration of each stage. If we look closely, it is the pace of communication that decides the velocity of the team through each stage and at each stage, feedback can complete the communication loop. A faster real-time feedback between team members can bring the team members together and crash the total time for the Tuckman’s Stages.

Large enterprises which have multiple agile teams have realized this and are adopting the continuous feedback approach for efficiency gains in their existing Agile teams to stay ahead of competition.


The end of feedback as we know it

Feedback, collaboration, communication, Outlook email, email, Office 365
Feedback and Collaboration

Real-time feedback vs Traditional Feedback

Traditionally, feedback has been captured much after the interaction has happened in the workplace. Organizations conduct annual 360 degree feedback to solicit information from peers on how employees are doing at their work. This suffers from a recency bias as well as doesn’t help the recipient as the window of employing the feedback in work has already passed by. That is where real-time steals a march over traditional feedback.

Visualize a sports coach observing a set of players in action and constantly giving feedback to bring about small incremental changes that can bring about big improvements in their game. Continuous, micro-feedback on a real time basis at workplace can do similar wonders. It’s contextual and highly relevant nature can bring huge improvements in the way we work.

Email is not just communication

Email has been the chosen medium of communication between people for decades, with web-based email offerings like Hotmail and Gmail increasing the popularity and user adoption.

Despite the advent of new communication tools like Yammer and Slack, email has been the numero-uno choice when it comes to communication in the workplace. The ease of attaching several types of documents, the security and the ability to add multiple users to communication threads has made it hugely popular amongst office folks.

I had my first email account setup on Lycos mail, back in mid-90s. While many such email providers have disappeared with the advent of new players like Gmail, email as a medium has thrived. The leading players have even gone onto make it all the more useful by adding features like auto-response and in-built “mentions” for quick parallel messaging tracks.

A sponsored 2010 study on workplace communication found 83% of U.S. knowledge workers felt email was critical to their success and productivity at work. By another estimate, we spend about 70% of our daily time reading and responding to emails but there’s an inherent drawback in email based communication. Unlike, face-to-face meetings and conversations where verbal feedback (and non-verbal cues) are possible, email doesn’t provide a way capture the feedback. We end up not leveraging several opportunities of giving real-time feedback on the work that’s happening over emails and miss out hugely on collaboration.

Real-time feedback within email

Communication without feedback is less of communication and perhaps even lesser of collaboration. Truly collaborative work can happen when there’s feedback going back and forth between employees working on a common project or task. That’s how we evolve and become better at our work!

Well, now it’s possible to give feedback on work being done over emails through new age tools like FeedForward. FeedForward subtly blends with your work email and becomes almost “hidden” thereby creating an unobtrusive user experience. Microfeedback on every piece of work on a continuous basis can actually help employees get a real-time perspective on how they are faring in the project and improve. The biggest advantage is it saves one from a situation of hesitating to give feedback in face to face situations, even when there’s strong reason and need for doing so.

On an average, we receive over 150 work emails every day but not all require our complete attention and response. FeedForward intuitively understands which emails require an action and captures these opportunities for giving feedback. That way, the recipient doesn’t get overwhelmed with too many cues for giving feedback. This particularly strong ability to capture highly contextual feedback makes FeedForward a true companion app at workplace.

Know more about how FeedForward can truly transform the way you collaborate within your emails in 2018!

Happy New Year!

How To Make The Most Of The Year-end Performance Appraisal Process

The spectrum of treatment that the Performance Appraisal Process is meted out in various organizations ranges from complete indifference to overpowering fear.

Year end performance management appraisal process
Performance Appraisal Process

Let’s visualize the Performance Appraisal Process for once. Your Manager schedules a meeting with you and other team members to have a one-on-one where he will ‘appraise’ you. Using his extraordinary memory, he recalls every bit of contribution that you made at the workplace during the last 12 months. He superhumanly collects all the feedback you should receive from all the important stakeholders, painstakingly analyzes it and then weaves that into your performance appraisal. He then follows it up with a detailed feedback to you on where you did well and where you missed a few opportunities. He takes time out to connect you with individuals who are doing well in areas where you can develop. Well, none of this truly ever happens!

Often, Performance Appraisal is treated as just another process in the workplace.  If you are lucky, your Manager will spend a few minutes to tell you about the quality of your contribution and give some feedback, based on the “recency effect” – things that he can recall from top of his mind. You end up thinking whether you got a fair chance of being ‘appraised’ and you stop looking forward to such discussions. You perhaps end up doing the same to your team when it comes to appraising them. And in the end, the entire Performance Appraisal process suffers.

Performance Appraisal process can really get a fillip with feedback on employees from multiple stakeholders. A lot of organizations do collect ‘360º Feedback’ once or twice a year. A few of them use some tools while others do it through just emails. It becomes so difficult to keep track of these emails on one hand and on the other hand, collecting feedback a few times a year is not enough to appraise an employee for her year-long efforts.

A robust Performance Appraisal process is one which runs throughout the year with continuous feedback streaming in for every employee

and is bi-directional – seniors can also get insightful feedback from their junior colleagues if there has been a meaningful collaboration over a project or assignment.

The advantages of a continuous feedback are its real time characteristics and takes the burden off the Manager to go through the cumbersome process. A real-time continuous feedback can collect feedback through everyday tools like email and collaboration platforms like Slack to give deep insights into a Manager’s team. By being available in everyday tools, employees are keen to click a few options within these tools to give feedback and the feedback giving rate dramatically goes up to 70-80% as opposed to using traditional survey tools which have a meagre 20-30% It thus allows the Manager to do coaching conversations to truly engage his team members and embark them on a path of productivity and enhanced performance, and help them realize their true potential.

Continuous Feedback system with real time analytics
Continuous Feedback Process

The other important stakeholder, besides the Manager, is the HR. HR department can come under tremendous pressure pushing people to complete the process within timelines and then collating all the data that flows in from multiple functions throughout the organization. A true Continuous Feedback system comes power-packed with real-time Analytics that present sharp insights into the organization. HR department can easily take data cuts of every function, every hierarchy level to proceed with a successful completion of the Performance Management Process.

So it’s now possible with a Real-time Continuous Feedback System in place, the Performance Appraisal process can move from zones of sheer indifference and overwhelmingly fearsome to one of truly-deserved importance and impact.

Real-time Employee Insights for Effective Learning & Development

HR guru Dave Ulrich once famously said ‘Abolish HR!’ ringing the alarm bells for the imminent loss of credibility of HR in organizations. To view it in the right perspective, out of all the functions in an organization, HR is the only one farthest from access to and usage of any form of real-time data. Sales has real-time customers and lead funnel data, finance has revenue and expenditure data and production has inventory, work-in-progress and finished goods data at their fingertips at any point of time. Unfortunately, HR has no real-time data around the employees on their competencies, skills, behaviors or values that the organization expects them to exhibit.

While HR is the custodian of competencies, there is no way for HR to know at what level the competencies are at a point in time in the organization. In the absence of credible data, many an HR initiatives fall flat on their faces.

Data driven HR, HR Analytics, HR Insights
Data-driven HR

However, with the advent of next-gen feedback solutions it is now possible to collect data around employees through feedback gathered from their peers on a continuous basis. Feedback can be collected seamlessly from employees which increases higher response rate and collects data that is contextually relevant. This data can then be analyzed using Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning methods to give important evidence-based insights into many facets of HR viz. Performance Management, Reward & Recognition, Learning & Development amongst many others. This article focuses on how continuous feedback can be used to power success of Learning & Development in organizations.

HR undertakes several Learning & Development activities for the enhancement of competencies necessary for carrying out the jobs well by employees. These activities are then calendarized for the year and communicated to various departments for them to nominate employees. While a lot of effort goes into this exercise, such activities are often plagued with no visibility of what programs will work the best to address skill gaps, loss of retention of learning objectives after the activities are over and no investment in competencies necessary for the future skill roadmap of the organization.

With continuous feedback, it is now possible to have real-time data that sharply focuses on programs that enhance the skills of employees, increase retention by continuous inputs around manifested competencies & behaviors and apportion budget on ‘missing’ skills in the organizational skill inventory. Such insights are available through rich analytics which the HR can use to be really future ready.

Continuous Feedback System
Continuous Feedback System

The continuous feedback system is a great way to enhance the L&D effectiveness of an organization. The cloud-based solution is easy to deploy, upgrade to keep up to the changing organizational dynamics and comes at a fraction of cost compared to conventional enterprise HR software.

It’s time for HR to take cognizance of the power of real-time data through continuous feedback and be in step with the other functions like sales, finance & production in the organization.