Running a Manager Feedback Cycle

 

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Credit: Flickr / Thorben

 

I just ran a thorough feedback cycle for the managers (leads) in my team. This is what it looked like.

Motivation: It’s hard to get feedback as a manager, the hope was that people would be more candid if they 1) submitted feedback anonymously 2) to someone else. Because we tend to amplify negative feedback, there was a benefit to having someone else go through it, find trends, and repackage it for the recipient.

Process

  • Put together a document of questions and discussed with people who to send the feedback requests to (everyone on their team, other leads in mobile, people on projects owned by that lead).
  • Sent those questions to those people using our anonymous feedback system.
  • Gave people a week to respond (and then extended it so they had two).
  • Asked people getting feedback to send me a 3-2-1-Oh! Put it in a doc for each person.
  • Collated responses in a spreadsheet (and in the doc for each person). Made sure these were private.
  • Color-coded the spreadsheet (green = positive, orange = actionable). I would have used red if there was anything that was particularly worrying, but thankfully I had no need to 🙂
  • Went through and summarised under two headings: What Your Team Appreciates About You and What Your Team Would Like to See From You.
  • Put together a section called Takeaways which contained 4-5 actionable things from the headings above (including things to keep doing).
  • Copied relevant content into a new google doc (excluding responses), and shared it with the person. These were called “Name – Private” (my working doc) and “Name” (the one I shared).
  • Had a call and discuss the content.
  • Sent to HR.

Questions

  1. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate XXX’s overall performance as a lead? (one being “they suck” and 10 being “they don’t come any better”? Explain your rating. 
  2. What’s the best part of working with XXX?
  3. What’s the hardest part of working with XXX?
  4. What are three of  XXX’s strengths?
  5. What do you wish XXX would do more of? What do you wish XXX would do less of?
  6. If you had one suggestion for how XXX could go from good to great, or from awesome to awesomer, what would it be?
  7. If you were having lunch with a friend and talking about your job, how would you describe XXX as a lead?
  8. Complete the following, “My ideal lead is someone who…”
  9. Describe yourself when you are at your best. Is there anything XXX does to enable that?
  10. Anything else?

My coach Dani put these together for me 💜

Document Headings

Bold: Included in the document I shared.

  • Feedback
  • > What Your Team Appreciate About You
  • > What Your Team Would Like to See From You
  • > Takeaways
  • HR Questions
  • 3-2-1-O
  • Questions
  • Response 1
  • Response 2

What I’d Change

  • Keep track of who I sent requests to – mainly to have an idea of how many responses I was expecting, and be able to remind people via email (would have to be all of them) instead of posting general requests in Slack.
  • Adjust the questions for people who aren’t on the team (e.g. have peer questions, and perhaps also project IC questions).

Time Commitment

  • Researching and thinking about the questions: several hours. I asked a colleague and three of my CTO friends for advice, and ended up having my coach help me with the more detailed questions.
  • Sending out feedback requests: 15mins / person.
  • Collecting feedback into the doc / spreadsheet: 30 mins – 1 hour per person (I also read it through which got me thinking about the feedback before I started processing it).
  • Going through the spreadsheet in detail, colour coding, and writing up detailed feedback (including the HR feedback questions I was sent): 2-3 hours per person.

Note: this is just the time commitment for me to run it. Writing the 3-2-1-Oh!s and filling in feedback for others also took up time on the team.

What People Said

I loved this feedback review mostly because of how structured and transparent it was. Not only did I know everyone who was getting reviewed, but I knew everyone was getting the same questions. That relieved a lot of the stress in wondering “why did I get this review request?”. The question format of listing things (name one thing, what are the three things, etc) also made it super quick.

~@kwonye

There weren’t any big surprises in my feedback, but I appreciated getting the reinforcement that I’m on the right track — knowing what you’re doing well is always motivating. I liked that the top-level points were broken down into “what your team appreciates” and “what your team would like to see” — where criticism is presented as concrete things that can be improved or changed.

~@mattmiklic

I’ve always been apprehensive about getting feedback about myself just because of a fear of failure. Internally I can feel like I am succeeding but still get nervous when I go through a feedback process. This process eliminated a ton of that upfront fear because I knew what questions were being asked and trusted the process to be fair and unbiased unlike in previous jobs. I love getting actionable things to do or try out!

~@astralbodies

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