The Economist has found that good management is highly correlated with improved corporate performance measured in terms of productivity, profitability, growth and survival. Many companies rely on quantitative performance metrics to assess manager performance (e.g., financials, utilization, etc.). But the numbers only tell part of the story. It is hard to truly understand how managers are doing without gathering feedback from their employees.
Today, many companies are seeking to develop a culture that encourages open communication and transparent feedback methods from employees. For example, UK marketing agency, Quirk, has created a public process in the form of a flow chart on the agency’s office walls. This allows anyone in the company to offer opportunities for improvements to management, suggest ideas for their teams, gather support for those ideas through colleague signatures, and implement those ideas.
While transparent methods of public feedback are of course an ideal to strive for, the company leading the way in manager feedback methods – Google – has implemented an anonymous survey process where employees evaluate their managers’ performances bi-annually. The company used its extensive access to data to develop the following targeted questions:
Google’s Upward Feedback Survey
My manager gives me actionable feedback that helps me improve
My manager does not “micromanage” (i.e., get involved in details that should be handled at other levels)
My manager shows consideration for me as a person
My manager keeps the team focused on our priority results/deliverables
My manager regularly shares relevant information from his/her manager and senior leadership
My manager has had a meaningful discussion with me about my career development in the past six months
My manager communicates clear goals for our team
My manager has the technical expertise (e.g. coding in Tech, accounting in Finance) required to effectively manage me
I would recommend my manager to other Googlers
Source: Work Rules: Insights from Inside Google, Laszlo Bock
Google’s anonymous surveys encourage 100% participation and honesty from each and every person. They also do not impact performance management evaluations, thus avoiding any risk of managers gaming surveys or pressuring team members to answer in a particular way.
The company leverages the information from these surveys in several ways. First, Google uses the employee feedback to publicly recognize the best managers and enlist them as teachers and role models for up-and-coming managers. The lowest-reviewed managers receive intense coaching and support. According to an interview with Laszlo Bock, former Senior Vice President of Google’s People Operations, this coaching helps 75% of those managers improve within a quarter.
Next, managers go over their results in-person with their team. This starts a dialogue about things that the manager can specifically change and improve and flips the traditional manager-employee relationship on its head.
This process is yielding tangible results: from 2010-2012, the average overall score for managers across Google rose from 83% to 88%, and managers have received the process with open arms.
Interested in implementing a variation on Google’s process to improve feedback on your management? Explore the plethora of survey tools to implement a similar survey strategy that will fit your corporate culture in order to increase communication, improve your manager’s skills, and drive performance at every level of the organization.