How do we give Feedback at EMPAUA and why is this highly important to us?
There are things that we don’t know about ourselves, but that is seen and acknowledged by those around us. It could be an ability we don’t know we have or that is simply underestimated by us, while others can see it very clearly; it could be a character trait or a certain kind of behaviour that we display without being aware of it. Even if we reflect a lot and act with great prudence, there will always be things that escape our notice and that in the end are blind spots that hinder us from being fully aware of ourselves. If we don’t know how others perceive us and our actions, we can also not act on possible improvement potential. With the help of others, these blind spots can be reduced though, and we can use the new knowledge about ourselves to grow.
Consequently, feedback is very important for our development! That’s why a healthy feedback culture should be pursued in any company, but this applies all the more to a self-managed environment, where judgment from „above“ is missing and people are highly dependent on their self-awareness.
At EMPAUA, we have many different ways and processes in place with regard to feedback. The first feedback our team members receive is already during the recruiting process – every person they have an interview with comments on cultural fit, role fit, skill fit and the salary expectation of the respective applicant. Then, of course, there will be feedback throughout the probation period, especially after 3 and 6 months, so everyone knows how they are doing and being perceived by their peers during the first months at EMPAUA. Also, Circle Leads (= our „team leads“) give regular feedback on role fulfilment, any other measurable achievements on the basis of individual goals, and on cultural aspects to the respective circle members, and vice versa.
When a team member wants to raise their salary, they will write a salary proposal elaborating on achievements and things to improve on in their roles and set themselves goals for the next months. A panel comprised of people who work closely with the colleague in question will then give feedback on the proposal and the planned goals and next steps.
Furthermore, we also have a peer to peer feedback tool that we can use to give feedback to any of our colleagues regarding cultural aspects, technical skills, and project management any time we want.
Obviously, feedback is not only restricted to bringing up improvement potential. Praising achievements and showing appreciation to one another is just as important! Therefore, we have an appreciation channel in our team chat where people can thank each other or point out their teammates‘ accomplishments. Apart from that, closed deals and finished projects are transparently shared with the whole team so everyone can join in the celebration.
Of course, we also want to make sure our team knows exactly how to give and process constructive feedback. Therefore, every new team member will attend a session on feedback and its importance during the Onboarding week. There is also a detailed intro session on Nonviolent communication – a communication model (or better: mindset) by Marshall B. Rosenberg with the purpose of mutual understanding and compassion with the ultimate goal of fulfilling the needs of both sides – which is supposed to be the basis of any feedback or conflict resolution.
Although feedback has so many advantages, it is often still considered an evil – after all, it is not always easy to be confronted with our less-than-perfect sides. Therefore, people are sometimes concerned that if they approach others with critical feedback, it could be taken the wrong way and harm the relationship, and are therefore hesitant to do it
To reassure everyone that feedback is, in fact, a gift, we asked our team how feedback would need to be in order to be valuable for them. From their answers, we phrased EMPAUA‘s Golden Rules of Feedback, which now adorn the walls of all offices, so everyone is always aware that as long as it is following these guidelines, feedback is very welcome and should be given as often as possible!