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The Democratisation of 360 Feedback Surveys

Welcome back to the Five Features to Include in Performance Management in 2021 series. This weekly series will help you transform your organisations performance management systems by focusing on a culture led employee experience. This post focuses on how your organisation can democratise 360 feedback surveys to empower the employee and derive business benefits from doing so.

Over the last couple decades, it is common to see a small percentage of employees have greater access to learning and development programmes than the rest of their organisation. The employees with access to these programmes experience great coaching, feedback, and development conversations which can accelerate their careers. If these programmes have the potential to improve individual and organisation performance, why does only a small percentage of employees get these opportunities? In short because they are an expense often looked upon as discretionary spending by executive committees and board members.

When the economy is thriving and organisations are reporting record profits, HR can sometimes get more budget to create a memorable employee experience and transform an organisation’s culture. But, in times of crisis when the economy is on the edge of a recession and businesses are faced with difficult decisions how to survive, HR is often asked to continue providing the same employee experience with less resources. However, NOW is the time  to invest in your people, care for their wellbeing and ensure a great employee experience.

Three points to consider

Your organisation can democratise surveys so that every employee has the same opportunity for their voice to be heard, to gain self-awareness, and reach their potential despite limited resources. There are several things to consider when making 360 feedback accessible to the broader organisation.

  • Your employees might be familiar with participating in a 360 as a rater but not as the subject – and it’s different.
  • Start with communicating the purpose of 360 feedback, why they are participating, and how it fits into the larger performance management system.
  • Provide training and resources to employees so they know how to select raters, interpret results, and create a development plan.

By democratising the 360 Feedback Survey you can create a culture led employee experience, inspiring your employees to reach their potential and your organisation to improve overall performance on metrics you can measure.

Welcome back to the Five Features to Include in Performance Management in 2021 series. This weekly series will help you transform your organisations performance management systems by focusing on a culture led employee experience. This post focuses on how you can use agile goal setting during these uncertain times to transform your workplace culture. This week we are talking about check-ins, and how they are the keystone to accelerating your organisation’s performance.

As a child, I was always fascinated by architecture, especially masonry arches. What intrigued me was how they could create a shape using heavy stone without the convenience of modern machinery. I learned that every arch has a keystone which locks the stones together and gives it strength.[1] This simple, elegant solution allowed structures to withstand the tests of time.

One-to-one check-ins are the keystone to resilience and focus, allowing organisations to survive and thrive in a world of constant disruption. Imagine one side of the arch is the organisations collective knowledge, skills, and abilities. The other are the tasks, processes, and objectives which need to be completed. The check-in allows both sides to work in tandem strengthening the organisation by removing the uncertainty and ambiguity employees face daily.

Here are a few tips how your organisation can use the check-in to accelerate performance.

Employee owned

Shift the mindset of employees from being a passenger to the driver of the check-in. Everyone is busy and employees should have the ability to schedule check-ins when they need one. Also, they can ask themselves, “What important things should we discuss? Are there any barriers to accomplishing goals? How can my manager support me better?”

Manager guided

Being prepared for the employee check-in is half the battle, the other half is remaining present. Some ideas for being prepared include agreeing on an agenda in advance, reviewing the employee’s goals, and making sure you are familiar with the current business priorities/objectives. Stay present by actively listening, keeping an open mind, and being flexible if topics come up that were not on the agenda.

Organisation enabled

Technology can enable employee check-ins to happen in the flow of work with templates for different types allowing the conversation to stay on track and enriching the relationship between employee and manager. HR can see whether check-ins are scheduled and if they occurred. They can also see what topics are trending and where. I’ll cover more about leveraging analytics in a couple weeks.

Create a culture led employee experience by harnessing the power of the check-in and transform your performance management systems. You can inspire your employees to reach their full potential and your organisation to improve overall performance on metrics you can actually measure.

Next week we’ll be back with The Democratisation of 360 Surveys.

[1] ‘Keystone (architecture)’ 2020 Wikipedia. Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keystone_(architecture) (Accessed: 09 September 2020).


Welcome back to the Five Features to Include in Performance Management in 2021 series. This weekly series will help you transform your organisations performance management systems by focusing on a culture led employee experience. This post focuses on how you can use agile goal setting during these uncertain times and the importance of employee feedback to transform your workplace culture.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced organisations to implement a structural change to where work is done, overnight. Many HR departments championed more flexible work arrangements and were met with resistance for years. While the structural change occurred overnight, the changes to how work is done continues.

Think back to the last time you received feedback or recognition from a colleague or manager. Where were you working? How was it delivered? Chances are it was in an office and face to face. Our research indicates organisations that do not have a feedback and recognition culture have seen a reduction in frequency (both giving and requesting) since the shift to working remotely. The reason why probably will not surprise you. Many employees and managers are not comfortable giving or requesting feedback and recognition. Despite this discomfort, 80% of employees want to receive feedback weekly or monthly.

When organisations started working remotely people were uncomfortable with the idea – expecting collaboration and productivity to decrease. The longer we work remotely and practice collaborating with our colleagues and accomplishing business objectives we become more skilled and comfortable in new ways of working – transforming our cultures. Becoming skilled and comfortable providing feedback and recognition is also a skill which can be developed over time the more we practice.

Here are three important benefits of including feedback and recognition in your performance management system.

Create a learning culture

Giving employees feedback and recognition can increase self-awareness about opportunities to develop and strengths they can lean into. Providing opportunities for employees to learn and recognising their effort and time spent focusing on self-improvement can be the foundation of a learning culture and shows the importance of employee feedback.

Increase happiness

A workplace where positive reinforcement and constructive feedback is embraced creates happy employees. Happy employees are productive employees. Recognising individuals and teams can boost their confidence, promote collaboration, enhance loyalty, and boost the overall morale of the organisation.

Improve employee retention

Hiring an employee is a significant investment. Once they are hired, they need training, development, and motivation to perform. A great way to show appreciation to your employees and keep them motivated is creating a rewards and recognition program.

A culture led employee experience can transform your performance management systems and inspire your employees to reach their potential and your organisation to improve overall performance on metrics you can measure.

Next week we’ll be back with: Check-in’s.

Welcome back to the Five Features to Include in Performance Management in 2021 series. This weekly series will help you transform your organisations performance management systems by focusing on a culture led employee experience. This post focuses on how you can use agile goal setting in the workplace during these uncertain times to transform your company culture.

Over the last decade, hiring managers and recruiters have included in job postings with greater frequency words and phrases such as flexibility, adaptability, and ‘comfortable with uncertainty/shifting priorities.’ Although some are searching for candidates who have these desirable capabilities, their organisations remain locked into inflexible and restrictive processes rendering these capabilities ineffective. The traditional performance cycle is one of those processes which needs to become more agile and the place to start is goal setting in the workplace.

This year proves with increased uncertainty comes increased difficulty in creating long term business objectives or employee goals. The volatility and ambiguity caused by the crisis spreading across the globe has meant shutting down sectors, leading to businesses rapidly shifting priorities, which in turn affects goals. Organisations and employees rely on goals to provide focus and clarity on the work that needs to be undertaken to improve performance.

It makes sense organisations want to improve performance as it has a dramatic effect on business results (increased revenue, increased profitability, share price, etc.). How can organisations be agile and prepare for continued uncertainty?

Put employees at the centre of goal setting

Employees should not feel like goal setting is something out of their control. When placing the employee at the centre of goal setting in the workplace, you can achieve their buy-in for agile goals which will increase the probability they are achieved. It will also inspire commitment and provide a sense of ownership.

Link individual and business goals

It’s important for employees to understand how their goals are linked to business objectives. Employees are more effective and likely to achieve their goals if they see how they fit into the bigger picture. More importantly, it can provide employees with a sense of purpose, understanding the impact of their performance, and alignment with the organisation’s mission.

Adapt goals as circumstances change

Goal setting should not be a ‘set it and forget it until the end of year’ exercise. Goals should never be static and incapable of being updated. Goals should be dynamic and evolve as circumstances change. Frequently revisiting goals throughout the year and adjusting them will motivate performance despite facing uncertainty.

By placing the employee at the centre of goal setting in the workplace and creating a culture led employee experience you can transform your performance management systems. This will inspire your employees to reach their potential and will help your organisation to improve overall performance on metrics you can measure.

Next week we’ll be back with The Importance of Feedback and Recognition at Work.

This year challenged organisations for a myriad of reasons. The COVID-19 pandemic continues across the globe leaving in its wake a trail of destruction affecting everyone and everything. Organisations that weathered the crisis reacted quickly – accelerating long term strategic plans to introduce more remote work – seemingly overnight to 100% remote work. The key is not whether the structural changes were made, it’s whether new ways of work are embraced, and culture transformed. One part of the employee experience which many organisations evolved over the last decade is performance management and the crisis brought more attention to why it needs evolution.

A new archetype of employee was created during the pandemic – those deemed essential workers, kept our healthcare systems, food supply chains, and other services operating while the majority stayed at home. The traditional performance management guidelines no longer seem fit for purpose if a manager at the end of the year tells an essential worker they are underperforming. Yet, they were the ones showing up day in and day out, doing their part to keep our services open.

HR has an opportunity to transform archaic practices which do not create the cultures we have so long aspired. Korn Ferry’s research indicates “performance management as the second highest ranked area of change for the next two years.” [1] So, if you are responsible for transforming your performance management system, what will it include? What will you design to help your employees reach their full potential and improve organisational performance?

If you’re honest with yourself, the answer is probably not the dreaded annual performance review. That outdated process launched by HR, sent to employees and managers who spend countless hours filling out a form providing evidence to justify performance ratings, all the while anxiety mounts before meeting in person to discuss performance (issues) better addressed in proximity to the time of the event when something could actually be done. Does that sound like a great employee experience for either the employee or the manager?

I’ve got great news for you. By focusing on a culture led employee experience you can transform your performance management system. Here are five features to include in performance management guidelines in 2021:

  • Agile goal setting
  • Feedback and recognition
  • Check-ins
  • Surveys – 360 and Pulse
  • Coaching Reports

Over the course of the next five weeks we’ll dive into each feature to give you insights on how to put the employee at the centre of employee experience and create a system that inspires employees to reach their potential and your organisation to improve overall performance on metrics you can actually measure.

Stay tuned.

[1] Korn Ferry. (2020). Optimizing Rewards in a Changing World. https://www.kornferry.com/lp/whitepaper-optimizing-rewards

In a world of dispersed teams, remote working, shifting priorities and agility at every level of the world we live in, is it time to reconsider how we drive the employee experience. The culture and employee experience has grown in relevance over the past number of years and unlocks the keys to building inspiring cultures. It’s fair to say that it looks different in every organisation. It encompasses every aspect of HR because everything we do in HR inevitably has an impact on our peoples’ experience. This has been the great opportunity but equally the great challenge with employee experience. It’s covered everything from the way we work to how we work to how we measure it.

Defining a New Era for Employee Experience Outcomes

The Covid-19 world has accelerated the need to bring this space to an entirely new level. Arguably, the role of the Head of Employee Experience is now the key instigator of driving cultures that can shift and readjust with the times we find ourselves in, inspiring the people within them to optimise performance, delivering the agility and resilience that is so pertinent today. This can be a defining new era for how we manage the role and the outcomes of Employee Experience.

To focus solely on one aspect of the experience is too narrow in focus. Choosing the employee engagement survey or even the regularity of a pulse survey as a sole focus narrows the view to one measure. It’s time we looked across the holistic experience, incorporating all the key drivers of experience. While it’s interesting to pulse the mood with ongoing engagement surveys, the reality is that our peoples’ mood can be influenced by a myriad of changing realities, internal or indeed external to the environment and the opinions can be transient capturing a moment in time rather than a true reality. That’s not to undermine the role of pulse surveys, they have a key part to play but shouldn’t be the only measure. The true measure is to consider what is the organisation doing to drive the experience. There’s a great quote that when a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower. Employee Experience has the opportunity to do just that, create the right conditions for people to grow, flowers are optional!

Taking a Broader View by Using the Key Drivers of Experience

Broadening out the measure could incorporate taking the key drivers of the experience including purpose, growth, leadership, voice, appreciation and let’s not forget trust! By taking this approach you can use a range of measurements to analyse what is the organisation doing to drive those experiences. The measures range from simple questions such as ‘does everyone have a development goal’, right through to the more complex questions such as ‘does our leaders provide the right level of direction and coaching to our people’. This would be measured by determining how many managers had a check in with their people in the past two months and what was discussed. There are many means of analysing this beyond the outcomes of an engagement survey. When we look at these wider measures, it can be a powerful means of moving the strategic agenda of employee experience.

HR have never had greater opportunity to influence employees’ experience than now. This is a pivotal moment for each person in a HR role – as now is the time to re-imagine every aspect of our culture and employee experience and challenge the practices that ran the pre Covid-19 world. If there’s ever an opportunity for every Head of Employee Experience voice to be heard, it is now!

HR Directors are frequently leaned on for support on the ‘human’ issues in organisations and never more so than now. They are at the heart of the crisis we’re seeing today, supporting both managers and employees to navigate through unprecedented organisational working practices that are unrecognisable to our norm.

Today HR executives have very little time to waste and have to prioritise urgent over important in a time of crisis. With employees and leaders dispersed, there is less opportunity to interact on a human level and there is a reliance on HR to keep our businesses going through new working practices. HR Managers are being tasked with equipping their teams with everything they need to transition to a new way of working. Many managers have a hard job ahead of them as disruptors, innovators and agents for change in a new paradigm of working that includes remote and new ways of communication. Disconnections and confusion are hurting business, while disconnections between people typical of large organisations are magnified in a remote environment. Above all, those working in HR have found themselves responsible for the management of the human response to change.

As this crisis unfolds, we are beginning to see it fall to the Human Resources team to find a way through. This is putting increased pressure on us to come up with new ways to deal with a situation that is unfamiliar and stressful for everyone. From another perspective, we do now have the opportunity to lead the way by bringing humanity centre stage to our working practices, and perhaps to help each other find ways to bring our companies, our customers and our employees to a point of clarity and optimism about the future.

Humans at the centre

Bringing humanity back to the core purpose of HR has been talked about at length for the past couple of years. We were already seeing the workforce responding to outdated work practices and asking for more, with more and more people calling for a better approach to HR than those invented for an era long past. Change was on the horizon even before we came to this critical fork in the road.

We’ve never had a more compelling reason than now to embed the human elements of HR practices that will carry us forward. As many of us struggle with the new reality of working from home and being increasingly isolated from our colleagues, how can we help show our humanity at work, when that’s what is needed most?

At Tandem, our leadership team has spent the last 20 years learning how to manage the effects of change on the people it affects most. Our software gives us direct feedback on the human response to what it’s like to work in a large organisation, and how best to manage the interplay between so many people. Based on our data and our experience, we’ve compiled these recommendations for HR to manage the effects of change on employee performance. I hope that you find them useful at this difficult time.


1. Create a Community to Reduce Isolation

While working from home will have an early novelty value, over time this may have the impact of creating isolation, where colleagues may feel increasingly distant and removed from employers. The stress of homeschooling, concern about parents and the unpredictable nature of caring for loved ones brings emotional toil. Our employees need a sense of support and community now more than ever.

At Tandem we’re big believers in the power of constructive feedback but now is not the time to build on this. Instead, it’s the time for managers to show compassion, empathy and true leadership in the face of adversity.

Redirect feedback to building value and community. It’s never been a better time to value people for their contribution, positivity and proactivity shown. As people dealing with a lot of ambiguity, any time an employee who steps up should be acknowledged, recognised and rewarded with appreciation.

Find ways to formally appreciate great performers and stand out employees. Reward them with recognition and remember to magnify those achievements for the greater organisation as it’s not always obvious who is performing well in a remote environment. Celebrate wins together and never assume that everyone is aware of your success when it comes. Let them know.

As an example, we’ve built our software to include an additional library of appreciation tags to make it easier for managers to find the words to reach out and connect with their people and nudges can be sent as a means of maintaining the discipline and frequency to this outreach.

2. Encourage Discipline and Routine

People are feeling overwhelmed and many feel things are beyond their control. Believe it or not, at this time of great stress and change, a structure can help. Discipline and routine will provide reassurance and some frame of normality in a very abnormal situation. HR can be there to help people connect with each other and survive and thrive through all of this change. Here are some suggestions to support that:

  • Check-in 1:1 regularly: As managers restructure work and reprioritise needs, it is essential to connect personally with each individual on your team as often as possible. Applying a simple structure to check-ins that direct the conversation and allows you to get the most out of your time together is key. Regular one to one check-ins give managers an opportunity to reprioritise goals, identify areas where the employee is challenged and to offer support and help where it’s needed.
  • Regular morning huddles are a means to kick-off and bring focus and structure to the day: It’s an opportunity to check in with each other emotionally and connect on how everyone is doing, as well as a means of providing clarity on where the focus is. The general rule of thumb is to keep it light and tune into how people are doing rather than the to-do list of the day.
  • Run a midweek ‘Request Feedback’ from the Manager to the team: Here we recommend that your Managers ask the team if there is any further support they need and how everyone is doing. Keep things simple and light-hearted (use emojis and gifs if necessary!), but this provides a means of connecting and checking in with everyone as the week progresses.
  • A Friday virtual coffee: It’s natural that people will want some relief and those water-cooler moments are lost to us for now. Using technology such as Skype, Slack, Zoom or Teams just to check-in and have a virtual coffee together helps a lot. If the team is large, it can be more advantageous to create buddies, who can pair up to have coffee together. Mix up buddies over the weeks so that people can connect with everyone individually.

3. Reprioritise Workload and Work through Ambiguity

One of the biggest challenges facing all of us today is the ambiguity that comes with an unprecedented crisis. There is a general lack of clarity where before things were more certain and understood. It makes it difficult to define exactly what’s important when everything seems so extraordinarily insignificant in the face of the greater crisis. This means people are finding it harder to focus and to find meaning in their work.

While most organisations and teams will have established their goals earlier this year, it’s important to revisit those goals and find new ways to move forward in the context of our new reality.

Most businesses have been heavily impacted by these extraordinary events. Plan and update goals, targets, revenue forecasts and customers impacts. Decisions will need to be made fast and are likely to change and evolve week to week. Be flexible and open to new directions.

Sharing goals with your team and throughout your organisation is a way to open up a wider discussion of what is important and to share the load of finding the way forward. It gives everyone an opportunity to congratulate colleagues on fresh thinking, to empathise with those that need to cut back or reduce their output, and connect people in a way that allows them to help where it is needed and even excel. Simply, it’s nice to send a ‘well done’ to their colleague as they move through this.

4. Keep your finger on the pulse

It will be important for HR to stay close to the mood of the organisation and to show that they care. Pulse Surveys are a very effective way to ask just a few short questions that will give you a sense of how everyone is doing. We recommend keeping your surveys short but frequent. Weekly or bi-weekly Pulse Surveys focused on how the organisation can help will yield results and data that go beyond the conversations you’re having with your most immediate circle. Here are some recommended questions to get you started:

  • On a scale of 0-10 how are you feeling today? (scales can be changed to emojis or other wording to suit)
  • Do you have enough clarity on your priorities and goals?
  • Are you receiving enough support from your organisation to help?
  • Is there something you would like to see our organisation do to support you further at this time?

5. Embrace Uncertainty and Restore your Values

Employees are now in unfamiliar territory, unsure of what’s expected of them and of their ability to deliver. We are beginning to see the hard business side of employee engagement. If people feel disengaged and don’t buy into your mission, the friendships and water cooler conversations that used to sustain them are no longer available. In some organisations, there will be a lack of forgiveness for business practices that don’t tie into a company vision that everyone understands and believes in.

Now is the time to rebuild your organisation around the values you hold dear. Communicate your values clearly in the context of the actions you are taking and see if they still resonate. If not, it might be a good opportunity to revisit those values and consider adjusting them for a different time. Replace mundane tasks with no clear purpose with a fundamental shift toward purposeful work and the opportunity to help and serve your customers, clients and colleagues. Reward those who represent and champion your values most, and give people the opportunity to feedback into the organisation when they see those values being met by their colleagues. This is why continuous feedback works – it is a constant reminder of why we’re here, doing what we do, even when things are tough.

6. Make remote working easier

Managing employees remotely can be challenging if this is not yet an established practice. Providing tips and helpful support through this new means of working will be key to getting back to business. Here are some key tips for managing remote working in your organisation:

  • Set clear priorities communicated on daily huddles. A short meeting to kick-off and keep people focused throughout the day
  • Agree meeting agendas in advance of any meeting.
  • Overcommunicate!
  • Give team members clear boundaries for logging off as well as logging on. There can be a temptation to overwork when working from home.
  • Agree upon routines and structure to ensure that people have clarity about what’s expected and to ensure that they are taking time for breaks and self-care.
  • Clarify what tools you’ll be using to communicate and make sure everyone is comfortable using them. Having separate channels for chat and interaction can also be useful so you avoid email overload.


Finally, some tips for employees you can share…

For many employees, it may be a new experience to work from home. Sometimes it’s the very basic tips that can be helpful. Some of these tips may help your employees, so please feel free to share:


  • Have a clear start and finish time to your day. It can even be useful to walk around your house at the start and end of your day just to signal the beginning and end of work, and the transition to normal home life.
  • Create as much routine as feasible, institute break times and allow ‘switch off’ moments
  • Try to find a dedicated, regular space that can be closed off at the end of day. If this isn’t possible, create a routine that indicates that the office is closed. This can be as simple as closing the laptop and putting it away on a shelf as a kind of ritual that says “I’m done. Good job!”.
  • Encourage video communication instead of email. A 5-minute call over skype can eradicate 10-20 emails, which is especially true if the conversation is complex or involves some negative feedback that might otherwise be misunderstood – body language is so important.
  • Sprint working can be useful. Working in one-hour sprints and then taking a break gives a focus and structure.
  • Be clear about what you want to achieve with your day. Structure is vital. Plan your day on your calendar, blocking out the time that is for you to achieve things, releasing time for breaks or check-ins with your colleagues, and making room for the unexpected events of the day.
  • Create a ‘To Don’t’ list to avoid the many distractions that can take over your day, but don’t be too hard on yourself – life happens and sometimes it can be outside of our control. If you do get distracted, just refocus, and start where you left off.
  • Get some exercise. There can be a tendency to spend too much time at the desk and to lose structure from your day. Have a clear shut-off time that gets you out in fresh air or allows you to get some indoor exercise for relief.
  • Check-in with family and friends. This is the most important tip of all. Talk often, and a lot.


If you’d like some help in making all of this easier, Tandem HR technology for managing the performance of a remote workforce and our team of expert advisors have helped thousands of people from the largest organisations in the world to navigate the changes that come from a new culture of continuous feedback and positive performance management.


Get in touch for a strategic consultation on the steps you need to take today. 

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