After the financial crises in 2008, there was a need to redesign and restructure the banking sector. Five Degrees, a financial technology provider, developed the software needed to fill the gap for agile, transparent and readily available data. Today, banks are becoming increasingly customer centric and the need for one integrated system is becoming more apparent. Five Degree’s API allows banks to integrate their services with software, so that their customers can enjoy faster and more easily accessible banking services.
As a software development company, the employees at Five Degrees, work in small scrum teams from one project to the next. After which, the teams are required to give feedback to each other. Willianne Brocks, the company’s Head of HR, found that the employees really wanted to have more ongoing and broader feedback throughout the year, which was focused on their behaviors and skills, rather than specific outcomes. They needed a platform that complimented the agile sprints that they were using at the time.
Currently, Five Degrees operates in two separate countries. The key to team efficiency and individual performance comes down to communication. Having the geological distance in two required a process which would diminish the distance, and create a work environment that was open to giving honest and constructive feedback. Brock’s said:
“We do yearly staff involvement surveys to uncover what drives our employees and to determine their requirements the workplace. What was clear from the survey was employees were craving more constructive and continuous feedback. I think that easy communication is the key and we really were looking for a tool that could support this, because close contact and repetition is important to company collaboration.”
The performance review practice in place was clearly outdated, as employees were only receiving feedback on an annual basis. Being in an industry that required rapid development of software, the process in place simply did not reflect the nature of the work. Brocks explained:
“We needed a tool that complimented our culture. We are aware that a number of companies were already moving away from the annual review to continuous feedback, so it was only a natural progression for us. We wanted our team members to be motivated and engaged by their work.
One of the biggest challenges still remains getting the team to trust the feedback. Some cultures are naturally prone to give and receive open and honest feedback, while others see it as a difficult conversation to have.
According to Brock's: “When we started implementing the application, some team members found it uncomfortable to review themselves and to review management.” [...] “Some team members simply get on with the job at hand. Given our high engagement levels, I was confident that the new way of doing the annual reviews would be accepted by all.
Five Degrees quickly adopted the Impraise application by initially setting up an annual review. Brocks explained: We needed to gauge how the team would react to the two way annual review, before moving over to a continuous flow of feedback. We started with an annual review, so that our managers could understand how the tool worked and the value it would bring to the organisation”
Five Degrees has already started to see the benefit within the company. Instead of only soliciting feedback within the review, some teams have already started adopting continuous feedback on their own. Brocks said: “We asked the pilot team to start using the software as a tool for the scrum teams, but there was no need as they had already started giving and receiving feedback on their own”
Understanding that the feedback should come from a constructive perspective, Brocks emphasized that the language used must reflect the company values.
“However, the feedback tool is for the organization a fairly new concept. Brocks explained, “it’s going to take time for us to get them used to a continuous feedback culture. But, with enough coaching I’m sure Five Degrees will be giving and receiving feedback on an ongoing basis soon”
“People love your tool!, the adoption rate has been great! When asked, Brocks said the feature the team love the most is the mobile application, with the majority sharing feedback via the platform already. “The mobile app is intuitive, friendly and very easy to use. Not only that, but it gives way to positive conversations that otherwise might not have happened in the past.”
Impraise is a tool that provides the means to introduce continuous feedback, Ideally we want to get to a stage where people are automatically asking and giving feedback to each other. We know that it will take some education and time before people do that, but having the tool allows that to happen more easily”