Using Simple Feedback to Increase Company Meeting Effectiveness by 60%

August 28, 2017 - 9 minute read - Posted by

At 7Geese we use the OKRs goal setting process to run our company. As the CEO, at the beginning of every quarter, I hold an all-hands company meeting where we go over the past and new quarterly OKRs, overall company strategy, and our core values. 6-7 weeks later, I hold a mid-quarter company meeting to go over how much progress we have made on our objectives. The main goals of these two company meetings are to create clarity around the direction of the company and to boost team engagement.

With the launch of our pulse survey tool in 7Geese, I decided to measure how effective these meetings really are. I decided to ask for feedback since I had heard from a few people that they didn’t find the meetings effective.

I personally don’t like asking for feedback because it makes me uncomfortable and I always get a bit anxious from the time I ask the feedback to when people respond. It’s like the same feeling as waiting for your results after a medical test. However, I challenged myself and ask for feedback to see if the benefits outweigh the discomfort. I asked these 3 questions from the company, immediately after the company meeting was done. I used the anonymous feedback capability of 7Geese to make sure responses are as candid as possible.

First Feedback Pulse:

I personally thought that most people would respond positively. However, I was surprised. Here are the results I received:

Here are some responses to the last question:

  • “A lot of “Off Track” objectives without discussion, e.g. why are they off track? What are we going to do to get them back on track? Or are they even important enough if they are off track? Since clearly, we didn’t really work on them?” 
  • “I think the portion where we go over the organization objectives could be improved by having each manager taking turns talking about their aligned department objectives. For example, Person 1 goes over their 3 department objectives that were aligned to Org Objective 1. I think it would help improve the flow of the meeting.”
  • “I don’t usually leave these meetings feeling particularly enthusiastic. Sometimes they can feel quite draining. We should be doing a better job of celebrating/publicly recognizing the good work our employees are doing. I feel these kinds of group “celebrations” are important for boosting morale.”

The feedback was valid and I was so happy that I had asked, even though the responses were not positive. For the next meeting, I decided to implement three changes:

  • Have department heads present all their OKRs at the same time. Before we used to go through each objective one-by-one, with no specific order. This disrupted the flow of the meeting as we would go back-and-forth between department leaders.
  • Make sure we talk about why objectives are off-track and what we are doing to get back on track. Just mentioning something is off-track is not helpful or motivating.
  • Making sure to celebrate wins and recognize people that have gone above-and-beyond.

Second Feedback Pulse:

I asked the same feedback questions after the next meeting and got the following responses. Both the clarity and engagement increased, which made me super motivated to keep on improving the meeting format.

Here are some responses to the last question:

  • “Nice to see what direction the company was going. As for the product side, I’m not sure if this is asking too much, but I wished we could have screen shots to show how the product evolved. It would be really interesting to see how far 7geese has grown in just one quarter.”
  • “All-in-all, I think this was the smoothest meeting.”
  • “Really concise and clear communication during the meeting. Really enjoyed it!
  • “The wrap up of each department from Q2 was a great intro into what each area does; however, I think we could do better at the end of the meeting to build excitement for the quarter to come.”
  • “The color-coding was confusing. I would have liked to see a new slide with the new product priorities/roadmap.”

The feedback was again very informative and helpful. From the feedback responses, one thing that was creating confusion during the meeting was the product roadmap section. People wanted to see better visualizations of how we have done on our product roadmap. One person also mentioned that we need to finish the meeting with more excitement. I decided to make more changes to the next meeting:

  • Create a better visualization of the product roadmap.
  • Include a list of everything we have shipped with the product in 2017 so far. Our product manager put together the list below.
  • Create a new slide with closing remarks.

Third Feedback Pulse:

Following the same routine, I asked the 3 feedback questions immediately after the next meeting finished. Here are the responses:

Here are some responses to the last question:

  • “Overall it provided a lot of much-needed clarity but my main concern was mostly with the timing. I wish we can be more diligent with keeping the meeting on time.”

I was excited to see that the ratings for the meeting went higher. Another constructive feedback that came was the lack of promptness of the meeting. I usually make it just on time or a few minutes late to these meetings as I’m rushing to make last minute changes to the slides or rehearsing the presentation at home. I can’t deny that I do have a chronic lateness issue and I always underestimate how much time I need to get ready and for the commute. For the next meeting, my only change will be to make sure I’m ready 30 minutes before the meeting and have my laptop, technology setup for remote team members, and slides ready to go.

Feedback Response Trend:

Below is a graph of how the effectiveness of the company meeting was improved over the course of three meetings. The most improvement was to the alignment and engagement of the team which went from 52% to 83% (60% improvement).

Conclusion and Learnings:

I’m now way more open to asking for feedback after seeing how our meetings were improved. I’m going to start asking for more feedback and promoting people to ask for feedback as well. In my future posts, I’ll discuss how to effectively promote team members to ask for feedback about their performance.

Also published on Medium.

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