The power of timely feedback

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Think Tank: Fix the workplace, not the workers

Here’s an inspiring, challenging excerpt from article in 6th Nov

They may be annoying but they’re right, so employers must act on the demands for feedback from the Millennial generation.

Kimley-Horn, a large American engineering firm, takes a peer-to-peer approach. At this sprawling 60-office company, anybody at any time can award a colleague a $50 (£31) bonus.

Instead of once-a-year acknowledgment from a boss who may not remember your heroic deeds, these modest bonuses allow colleagues to recognise good work instantly – and that, in turn, can create an environment in which feedback more regularly bursts through the dry sands of office life. Last year, Kimley-Horn employees gave each other nearly 2,000 of these on-the-spot bonuses.

A person’s supervisor must sign off on each award. But ultimately the decision rests with peers, not bosses – which can make the feedback and recognition more meaningful. As Kimley-Horn’s Julie Beauvais puts it, giving employees a way to acknowledge a co-worker “puts the feedback control in the hands of the folks who are closest to the activity”.

If this sort of unconventional, responsive management approach appeals to (or indeed horrifies) you, you might be interested in the astonishingly egalitarian, staff liberational practices of Semco in Brazil. Two great books by its CEO Ricardo Semler – Maverick and The Seven Day Weekend.

Big thanks to my mate Henry Stewart from Happy Ltd for alerting me to the article and to the incomparable Semler.

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