Getting the most out of 360 feedback

Guest blog post by Beth Steinberg. Beth has over 18 years of experience in organization development, talent strategy and leadership development. Her focus has been to help leaders and companies with complex organizational and growth issues. Beth focuses on driving useful employee programs, leadership coaching, executive development and organizational development.


Few concepts in psychology have been written about more uncritically and incorrectly than that of feedback.. . . Actually, feedback is only information, that is, data, and as such has no necessary consequences at all. – Latham & Locke

360 feedback has continued to gain popularity over the years.  Once a process used only for senior executives, new technologies, and transparent company cultures have propelled the process to include many levels of the organization.  While much of this change is positive, there are many things to think about when you embark upon a 360 feedback process for your team.


Traditionally 360’s have been done for the following reasons:

  • To understand how the employee is viewed across an organization, including peers, key stakeholders and direct reports as part of a company feedback process.  It can also be used as “upward” feedback on a manager.
  • As an intervention designed to look at an employee’s performance when the manager has a concern that the employee is not performing well, does not align with the values and behaviors of the company, or to gather data on specific issue.  
  • To gather feedback to help the person succeed and develop in their career for development purposes.

During my career, I’ve observed many different reactions to the 360 process. Many times, I’ve seen 360’s go well, and watched the employee benefits from the process.  I’ve also seen the opposite.  Occasionally, I’ve seen total denial and a lack of trust in the feedback and the process, especially if it was used as an intervention, when the manager was looking for negative feedback.  The reaction has depended on why the 360 was being done, how it was delivered, and what happened after the feedback was given.   Continue reading

New cycle creation – Let us guide you through it

Today we’re super pleased to announce our improved “Cycle Create” screens!

No pixel was left untouched, but all the ingredients are still there of course. Here are the highlights at a glance:

Pick participants upfront

For technical reasons, you first had to create a cycle and then add people to it. This is sometimes the best way, for instance if you just want to experiment with a questionnaire. Many new users found this confusing though, so we flipped things around. It’s still possible to skip the participants, but by default we now first ask you who should get reviewed. You’re still in control of when emails are sent, notifications remain the same.

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Sparkling Hidden Gems

Small Improvements comes with many powerful features, but as we endeavour to keep the interface simple and intuitive, some handy functionality and base concepts may fly under first users’ radars. In our “Sparks” project, we wanted to design a mechanism to deliver handy instructions and hints to users in order to “enlighten” them on some of these powerful, yet sometimes hidden features.

Let the hidden gems shine!

Inspired by old computer games and this post, we wanted to give customers some guidance to help them find all the little helpful features hidden in our tool. Glowing, pulsating ‘sparks’ will help users to find these tiny pieces of information throughout the application, but in a non-intrusive way. For instance; the “Magic Column” can be found in some tables, which is not used by everyone, but a powerful feature in itself.

spark in table column

Once an user dismisses the tip, they won’t see it again.

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We’re phasing out our Yammer-integration

Small Improvements featured a basic Yammer!-integration since mid 2014. Unfortunately the integration didn’t really take off: Yammer had gotten acquired by Microsoft in 2012 and fell out of favor with most organisations during 2015, and our integration didn’t thrive.

The current trend is towards enterprise communication tools like Slack and HipChat, and our  Slack integration fared much better. Also we’re working on a HipChat integration now that will ship it in early Q4.

We’ve stopped advertising Yammer in February, and new clients didn’t even see it in the admin screens anymore. And we’ll pull the plug on Yammer on November 1 2016.


New Activity Stream

Today we’re proud to announce another important evolutionary step of Small Improvements. We’re starting to display a proper Activity Stream on the dashboard and on User Profile pages, thus enabling much better ongoing communication, knowledge-sharing and engagement across teams and the whole company.

It will allow users, especially Managers, to get a great overview of what is happening in their team and company. This initial release focuses on the updates to Objectives, Messages, and User Management. We’ll phase in activity updates to Reviews and 360s in October.


Our Objectives feature has become really deep and thorough, and the introduction of Key Results in particular has increased it’s usage. One key ingredient was missing, however:  A good overview of what changes. As a manager you’d get an update via mail if your direct report made a change, but there was no convenient place where you could spot updates across the team, or even the company, in realtime.

Enter the activity stream! It makes it really easy to notice when a coworker creates a new objective or ticks off a key result, when your manager changes the completion status of your objective, or when someone comments on your objective. Of course, everyone only gets to see what they are allowed to see —  if a company uses only private objectives then the stream will look sparse.

A company with transparent objectives will see an immediate update in interest in what the team is working on — in fact the new AS will hopefully encourage companies to use objectives more publicly.

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A Small Improvement to Objective Cloning

As part of our recent “Ship-It Week” projects, we’ve made it a lot easier for you to select exactly who you want to clone an Objective to, not just all of your direct or indirect reports at once.

Within an organization, Objectives can be used in many different ways. Some organizations see it as a way to promote engagement by helping employees’ professional and personal development. Others see it as a way to align an organization by spreading a common vision through the distribution of common goals.

Whats New

In more detail, the Objective Cloning functionality now lets you: Continue reading

New Objective Icons, Badges and some refreshing Colours

Over the last few months, the summer sunshine here in Berlin (Small Improvements HQ) has helped many exciting new product projects thrive and flourish. Last week we held our first “Ship-It Week” – aimed at innovation, creativity and with a focus on getting cool stuff done and released.

Today we’re proud to announce the release of the latest project: A new library of Objective Icons, Message Badges and some nice updates to the colours of charts and statuses.

Working hard during our “Ship It Week” – a fun week of getting creative but also focused on being able to release features to customers!

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