Our vision and mission
Feedback Works c/o WeWork
12 Hammersmith Grove
London W6 7AP
Work is of critical importance to people and society. Not just for the obvious economic reasons, but for the contribution work makes to individual purpose, meaning and a sense of belonging. It is fundamental to the quality of family life and for the health of communities everywhere.
For most people, having at least one good relationship at work makes a huge difference to how they feel at work and about work. Connection and contribution are two fundamental human needs – routinely being asked how you feel at work and about work, and being listened to you, has the potential to transform the employment relationship, amongst many other aspects of life.
Without trust, work is hard and relationships don’t last
We regularly hear about the breakdown of trust in our societies. People are losing trust in longstanding institutions, in democracies and the elected representatives within them, in businesses and the leaders of them; in socio-economic groups due to greater transparency of the inequalities between them, and in other demographic and identity groups based on perceived differences between them.
Within businesses, increasing separation between low-skilled service-oriented work and high-skilled professional and entrepreneurial work, pay inequalities of different types, demographic and working pattern changes, and ever-increasing efficiency pressures all combine to make it harder to sustain meaningful relationships.
It is increasingly difficult not to see our lives as made up of thousands of transactions, each becoming more instantaneous. The risk is that we start to see and act within our interactions with others at work in this way.
We haven’t changed
Against these trends, we have the same fundamental psychological needs as we did ten, twenty or even fifty thousand years ago. We each need certainty, connection, significance, growth, variety, contribution and belonging. Work represents one of the primary areas of our life in which many of these needs can be met.
Regardless of what we hear about differences in the expectations of generations and the impact of technology, our fundamental needs drive our behaviour. And for almost all of our needs to met, we require meaningful human connection based around the reason we do what we do.
This means that we each need meaningful connection with people based firmly around the purpose, requirements, conduct, and results of our work.
Quality feedback-driven conversations are key
We contend that quality feedback-driven conversations create and maintain these meaningful connections at work, that there is huge scope to increase the amount and frequency with which they occur, and that the tools needed to do this exist, are relatively simple, can be used inclusively and can be scaled in organisations.
We consider quality feedback-driven conversations to be those in which people have a voice, feel heard, understand what is discussed and leave with clarity and commitment to any decisions made. We believe that the more quality feedback-driven conversations in a workplace, the more the culture will support sustainable levels of engagement.
There are many different types of feedback-driven conversation and contexts in which they occur. One way of grouping the feedback-driven conversations that happen at work (or don’t happen) is to think about them as:
Feedback-driven conversations that need to happen and are already happening. The opportunity here is provide helpful tools – clear processes, relevant support and a mechanism to reflect on the quality of feedback-driven conversations.
Feedback-driven conversations that need to happen but are not happening. The opportunity here is to get the right people to have these and provide effective tools.
Feedback-driven conversations that shouldn’t happen but are. The opportunity here is to make it ok for these Feedback-driven conversations to stop.
Quality feedback-driven conversations increase respect and trust between people, create opportunities to derive personal meaning and purpose from work, uncover problems and solutions, enable meaningful and effective collaboration, and identify areas for potential innovation and involvement.
In summary, we believe that quality feedback-driven conversations do two great things:
They improve relationships
They enable productivity
There is a lot of room to improve
Amongst others, the disciplines of management science and organisational behaviour, and professions of human resources and organisational development seek to understand how best to motivate people. Motivation is sought for the betterment of the people themselves (helping to meet some of their fundamental needs) and for the greater productivity and other organisational outcomes it delivers. Let us be clear that the first of these goals is secondary to the last in any commercial organisation.
A lot of energy, time and money is spent by organisations on the management of their people. Efforts made to ‘engage’ employees – to improve their cognitive, emotional and behavioural tendencies (how they think, feel and do their work) through survey feedback, action planning and related programs – have been around for several decades now. And still we read about low levels of engagement. Managers not managing well. Poor productivity. Organisations and countries lacking competitiveness in the global market. Continuing to do engagement (and related HR / OD initiatives) to people, whilst ignoring the obvious requirements for meaningful connections between people, is ridiculous.
So, we believe there is a clear moral and a business case for quality feedback-driven conversations. Each contribute to a whole range of better outcomes. A crowning achievement of our societies is the value of the individual above the group. A crowning human right within our societies is that of free speech. By bringing these virtues into employee feedback and engagement programs in a meaningful way, organisations will better enable individuals to have their psychological needs met at the same time as dramatically improving their performance.
We need clear, structured human processes
It is our experience that predictable, reliable outcomes come from human interactions when clear, purpose-built processes are followed. The founders of Feedback Works have over 50 years’ collective experience years working in employee feedback, engagement and organisation development with companies of all sizes in locations all over the world. It is on the basis of repeatedly seeing very little improvement in motivation and business performance as a result of poor feedback-driven conversations that we chose to start this movement. We consider these feedback-driven conversational processes to be real human technology and seek to share and embed these processes within organisations as widely as possible.
Many unclear, emergent interactions happen within organisations on a regular basis. Take survey feedback and action planning meetings. Performance management meetings. Regular team catch-ups. One-to-ones. Strategy sessions. Project reviews. Sprint planning meetings. Inter-departmental presentations. The list goes on and on.
Yet, how often are the processes followed within these interactions clearly articulated? Processes are not agendas, nor are the content discussed. They represent a combination of what to do and how do it, with clear guidance regarding requisite skills and behaviours and the appropriate use of these throughout. This is what Feedback Works exists to use, develop and share.
We adopt the following principles in support of our mission.
- Work really matters. Above economic reasons, work delivers purpose, meaning and belonging for people. We must acknowledge the importance of work to our societies.
- People should be considered. Markets, industries, business models, labour supply and demand, careers, and jobs are being changed by technology, globalisation and demographics. Ultimately, these changes affect people, whom we have a moral responsibility to consider.
- Good stuff already happens. Quality feedback-driven conversations happen all the time. We believe in finding and building on what works rather than trying to expose what doesn’t.
- Quality feedback-driven conversation skills exist. If people are in work, they likely already have the capabilities needed for quality feedback-driven conversations. If they don’t exist by adulthood, there is little chance of developing them.
- Stories not statistics. We firmly believe in the importance of user-centred employee feedback systems using content based on organisational science. However, the failure to follow proven processes using stories that people can relate to often limits or prevents benefits being realised.
- Trust the process. Reliable outcomes come from human interaction when clear and proven processes are followed. We consider these processes to be human technology and seek to share and embed these processes within organisations as widely as possible.
- No filters here. Quality feedback-driven conversations are inclusive in the way they are conducted and the content that is discussed. There must be clear intent for people to speak candidly and honestly.
- A choir, not a solo. People have different experiences and opinions, whether they are voiced or not. It is better to share and discuss these than for them to remain unexpressed.
- Open to all. Everyone is welcome to share in the use of our tools. We welcome people of all ages, cultures, beliefs and abilities.
- Share to care. Sharing our experiences and the contexts in which they happen builds understanding and trust between us. We welcome sharing and strive to role model this behaviour in our work.