Luke Kyte

Our culture revolution – Part 9: Getting a rounded feedback loop with with 360 reviews

Category Tags: Culture

We’re just a normal agency. You may own one. You may work for one. We’re ticking along nicely, picking up new business and growing at a good pace. The team size has upped from 1 to 20 in five years, with plans of reaching 50 by 2021. Everyone seems happy.

But we want more.

Day Zero was the launch of our manifesto. Its aim? To revolutionise our culture, attract amazing talent, and be recognised nationally as a great place to work.

Over the course of the next few months we’ll be taking you to the heart of Reddico, sharing our highs, our lows, and our eureka moments. We’ll be honest and open about everything. What works. What doesn’t. Whether you’re here for inspiration, to watch us fail, or out of sheer curiosity, welcome along.

No hours. No managers. Rules set by the team. Let’s see what happens next.

Over the last few weeks we’ve been digging into the job ownership side of our manifesto and laying the foundations. This will put us in a stronger position to be able to roll out some of the bigger cultural changes (self-regulated annual leave and choosing your working hours, for instance).

Job ownership focuses on giving the team clear guidelines and objectives. Whether they’re business or personal, it’s an opportunity to make an impact at all levels. Without this element of the manifesto we can’t measure how successful our new policies are.

Previously we’ve looked at:

  • Individual objectives, namely OKRs (objectives and key results). These give the team the chance to set objectives they want to work on – but have to be measurable and challenging.
  • The Net Promoter Score, and calculation into how happy our clients are based on one question. We’re aiming for a world class NPS, and have detailed how the team are rewarded based on reaching this target.

Now we come to the final piece of measurability, 360 reviews.

We want to create a culture that puts the team first, where people enjoy working, and where their talent and skills can flourish. To do this, everyone needs to be pulling in the same direction, considering their team, and helping to create a great environment.

An amazing workplace culture can’t just be created by setting up a table tennis table or coming up with new policies. You need the right team members to create a great culture.

This is one of many reasons why 360 reviews are so appealing.

What are 360 reviews?

They sound scary. Asking the people you work with to review you. When this part of the manifesto was announced to the team there was a little apprehension.

In most businesses, people are only ever reviewed by their line manager – probably once or twice a year. And whilst this does have its benefits, one person alone can’t provide all the constructive feedback possible to help you grow professionally.

Which is where 360s come in.

The concept is to get clear, actionable feedback on both things you’re doing really well and things you could build on or start doing. Not just from your line manager, but everyone you work with.

Potential reviewers can vary:

  • Your line manager
  • Your line manager’s manager
  • Your direct reports
  • People from your department or other departments
  • Customers or clients you work with

Suddenly you’ve a much more rounded review process that considers the people you work with and have an impact on each day. With this feedback you can get a much better understanding of what’s going well and which areas have room for improvement.

The questions we had to answer

It’s one thing to start using 360s as an opportunity for getting great feedback from a range of team members, but there were plenty of considerations:

  • How often would a 360 review be completed?
  • Will there be a certain number of people reviewing each team member?
  • Who picks reviewers? Do you get the chance to select the team members you want to hear feedback from, or should they choose you?
  • Will everyone be judged on the same 360 questions?
  • How will feedback be given and who will have access to it?
  • Will feedback be anonymous?
  • Will there be a scoring system involved?
  • Which 360 feedback tool will we use?

Anonymous vs. open feedback

Personally, this was something I was initially in two minds about. But after further thought and research it became clear which option was best going forward.

There are strong arguments favouring both sides of this, with guidance on how to choose the best approach for your company.

However, we’re trying to inspire a culture of openness and transparency, where anyone can talk with anyone to discuss issues and seek feedback. So why make feedback anonymous?

We trust the team to do the right thing, and give feedback that’s useful and can help the reviewed team member enhance their career. The moment this becomes anonymous, the communication loop is closed.

With anonymous feedback you can’t request additional information, or even sit down with people to discuss various areas of the review.

Anonymous feedback even opens up the opportunity of abuse and unhelpful comments. Amazon is one example where anonymous feedback had a detrimental impact on the culture of the business.

For us, openness was a pretty straightforward choice.

Researching a 360 review tool

With plans to launch 360 reviews, we needed a system to help with identifying questions and for collecting and storing feedback.

Our research was based on the following criteria:

  • Being able to choose multiple people to review you
  • Having an option to choose people to personally review
  • Seeing who gave you what feedback, rather than it being anonymous
  • Transparency to view everyone’s feedback, not just your own

The last point is again particular to us. Reiterating one of our values – build open and honest relationships – we felt all feedback should be accessible.

As you’d probably expect, finding a tool to tick all those boxes was difficult. Many offered some great features, but didn’t quite have it all. Others were very expensive for what they provided.

An initial setback, and something that’d need a swift resolution if we wanted to get the first set of 360 reviews out to the planned timeline.

What’s next?

Next week follows the production of our own 360 tool. That’s right – we couldn’t find something that ticked the boxes, so we decided to start building a review system that did.

We’ll even be giving you an insight into the tool itself and how it works, including the questions we use for 360 reviews. There’s also a second version developed since the initial launch, and we have further plans to make it even bigger and better.