Getting Actionable Manager Feedback

At Bazaarvoice R&D we have a peer feedback system that we use every six months.  Since it’s mostly focused on individual contributors, the questions relevant to management are too few and too broad (IMHO). e.g.

… Do they provide effective and timely feedback about your performance and work with you to establish and achieve your career goals? Do they coach, mentor and empower their team members (and those outside their team?) How effective are they as a leader of people? …

There’s a lot of important areas mentioned in that one question (feedback, career development, coaching, empowering, leadership).  Some of those areas might not get addressed.  I want more actionable feedback focused on items that are important to management excellence.  

A while back I wrote about Google’s Project Oxygen – an analytical approach to examining manager effectiveness.  I took their information on effective behaviors and passed it on to my team (the developers, QA, and designer who report to me, along with the Product Manager I work closely with) to see how I’m doing against the Oxygen criteria.

Here’s the survey I fashioned from their criteria:

===========

Anonymous Manager Feedback

These behaviors were articulated by Google as being an important factor in employee happiness and team effectiveness.  I would like to use this survey to help become a better manager.

Please rate me for each item on a scale of 1-5 (or N/A if necessary)

(1=never, 2=rarely, 3=usually, 4=often, 5=always)

Coaching

  • Provides specific constructive feedback, balancing the negative and the positive. [1-5]
  • Has regular one-on-ones, presenting advice tailored to employees’ specific strengths [1-5]
  • Comments (Optional) [text area]

Empowering and not micro-managing

  • Balances giving freedom to employees, while still being available for advice [1-5
  • Makes ‘stretch’ assignments to help the team tackle big problems [1-5]
  • Comments (Optional) [text area]

Team members’ success and personal well-being

  • Gets to know employees as people with lives outside of work [1-5]
  • Makes new members of the team feel welcome and helps ease their transition [1-5]
  • Comments (Optional) [text area]

Productivity and results-oriented

  • Focuses on what employees want the team to achieve and how they can help achieve it [1-5]
  • Helps the team prioritize work and uses seniority to remove roadblocks [1-5]
  • Comments (Optional) [text area]

Communication

  • Communication is two-way: manager listens and shares information [1-5]
  • Holds team meetings and is straightforward about the messages and goals of the team [1-5]
  • Encourages open dialogue and listens to the issues and concerns of employees [1-5]
  • Comments (Optional) [text area]

Career Development

  • Helps employees with career development [1-5]
  • Comments (Optional) [text area]

Vision and Strategy

  • Even in the midst of turmoil, keeps the team focused on goals and strategy [1-5]
  • Involves the team in setting and evolving the team’s vision and making progress toward it [1-5]
  • Comments (Optional) [text area]

Technical Skills

  • Has the technical skills to advise the team and understand the specific challenges of the work [1-5]
  • Rolls up sleeves and conducts work side by side with the team when needed [1-5]
  • Comments (Optional) [text area]

Misc

  • Any other feedback on how I can improve? [text area]

==================

I’ve used this for two separate quarterly rounds of feedback now.  Some of the aggregate results are below.

image

I think it’s a pretty good set of criteria to assess against, and it accurately picked up some areas for me to work on (career development, stretch goals).   Over the quarter I managed to improve on a few areas that I worked on, but the team also pointed out that I had missed some 1:1s in the past quarter.  I wasn’t sure they would notice or it would matter – but they did notice, and it does matter!  

Overall I think this is a good tool to identify and help prioritize areas for improvement, and I’m hoping to roll this out to all Bazaarvoice R&D managers based on my initial experiment with it.

About brendansterne

Director of Innovation Labs, Indeed.com
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