Narrow the Feedback Gap with RyppleBy Paul Boutin on September 8, 2011 in @Rypple, How To...
Most employees long for more feedback from their managers, yet most managers feel they already give plenty. And among more junior managers and their teams, the gap is even wider. Indeed, recent research by McKinsey & Co and others has found a gaping “feedback gap” between what employees need, and what managers give them. Yet any fan of the Dilbert comic strip knows that attempts to enforce manager-employee communications through a top-down policy almost always result in comical failure.
Why is Feedback Important?
Why should you be concerned about bridging the feedback gap? It turns out that frequent, specific feedback is the most important factor in keeping employees on track and motivated. Some experts and studies have found it ranks even higher than pay. In recent webinar, Dr. Paul Marciano, an expert on employee engagement and the author of “Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work,” spelled out that employers who want their workers to be fully in the game need to set clear goals up front and then keep giving them feedback as they go. Constant, in-the-moment communication makes employees feel valued and respected rather than just pressured.
Rypple is Engineered with Social Media in Mind
Today’s workers, especially younger ones and those at smaller, more nimble companies, know they often get more immediate and relevant feedback on Facebook and Twitter than they do from a formal company procedure. That’s where Rypple comes in. Rypple is social software for the workplace. It looks and feels familiar to any Internet user, but its structure and features are meant for small teams working together under a manager to meet common goals through a variety of feedback methods: recognition, goals, crowd-sourced questions, and lightweight performance reviews.
Real-time Communication for Workers and Managers
Rypple puts control over feedback into the hands of both workers and bosses. It starts by making it easy to praise an employee or coworker, but it adds to that with a structured, yet informal system by which managers can easily and – this is important – instantly give feedback to those who report to them. Rypple drags employee feedback out of the smokestack world of performance reviews into the modern world of real-time communication.
On Facebook, you can post a status update that appears instantly to friends, and lets them comment in seconds. On Rypple, both managers and employees can ask for feedback with a post that appears instantly to the team, each of whom has the option to respond anonymously. The process is simple, unhindered by multiple screens and confusing menus. Post and respond – everyone recognizes the format. Feedback becomes timely and continuous.
Rypple doesn’t hardwire workers into groups the way email lists do. Anyone can create a list of peers or mentors on the fly, to ask them for feedback on a specific project, situation, or aspect of their work. As a result, you can ask for feedback from only the specific people from whom you want to hear back. You don’t have to worry about bothering others, or setting themselves up to be slammed by the office grump.
Choose The Approach That Works Best For You
When you receive a request for feedback, you have one-click access to a page with all of the requestor’s goals, actions, past recognition, and notes, as well as the specific question or request you’re being asked to answer. You can enter a text response, or you can provide ratings – choose your own approach.
One important difference between Rypple and standard performance reviews, even so-called 360 reviews that involve peer feedback, is that feedback with Rypple doesn’t have to be a scheduled, one-time thing. It’s a spur-of-the-moment opportunity for instant feedback that doesn’t tie coworkers into giving one big answer per month, per quarter, or per year. You can do it again tomorrow, or next week, or right after the next meeting, which allows workers to understand how well they are adapting to past feedback—and continue to grow and adapt.
At the same time, the spontaneous, unofficial format encourages coworkers to speak up, because they’re not being put on the spot to fill out an official form that will sit on file. They can speak their minds instantly, without feeling pressured to craft a formal evaluation.
Feedback is Natural and Conversational — Not Institutional
Social media boasters like to describe the interaction on social networks as a “conversation,” by which they mean that everyone gets to talk to everyone else in real-time, if they want, rather than having one authority speak to the group, or having everyone take awkward turns at the microphone. Feedback comes in as soon as each person types, rather than waiting on a team response or holding each employee’s response to be delivered as a batch at some point in the future. Just as important, Rypple doesn’t force others to respond, or to slog through an email thread of responses in which they’re not interested. They can read a request when they get to it, and only need to type in a response if they feel like it. If they want, they can respond more than once as more thoughts come to them.
The result is that Rypple feedback feels more natural—as if you had spontaneously asked coworkers at lunch, “How’m I doing?” As everyone knows, that kind of feedback is quicker and better than a formal review. Most important, it’s more honest.