A new navigation is coming in Q1

In the past year we’ve improved quite a few navigational elements: User and cycle search, upcoming admin dates, global create, and general speediness. More recently we’ve shifted our attention to the sidebar, and we’re proud to enter a public beta phase now.

The new navigation has been battle-tested internally by our own staff and select alpha clients, and we’re really pleased with it. But we won’t rush it. We plan on phasing out the “old” navigation by the end of Q1, so there’s plenty of time to take a look and give us feedback!

Here’s an overview of what is new and improved:

Dedicated “your content” section

Until now the sidebar was split up strictly by module, showing submenus depending on the user’s role. An individual contributor would see their own review in the Performance Review menu, while a manager also saw their team’s reviews in an additional menu item.

We’re now dropping these role-specific menus, moving to a much cleaner and simpler layout: Independent of role every use immediately sees their own content – objectives, 360s, reviews — in one section:

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New “Team” and “Company” sections

All team- and company-wide content is now located in dedicated “Team” and “Company” pages. These new pages provide immediate insight into what happened in the person’s team and in the company by defaulting to an Activity tab. Both pages are available to all users. Inside these pages, the Activity and Objectives tabs are available to everyone, while additional tabs for reviews and 360s are displayed to managers and HR only. This makes it much easier for managers to think of their team as a whole.

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Clearer access to cycles

Once you select a tab for Reviews, 360s or Objectives, we’re now listing all cycles, rather than diving into the most recent one. This allows users to make a conscious decison what cycle to focus on. New or casual users will find the cycle overview approach much more natural to work with. Experienced SI Power users (who want to keep jumping straight into a cycle) can skip this new screen by using the “Jump to..” shortcut on the top-right of the screen.

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Objective browser repositioned

The Objectives browser becomes far more prominent in the new navigation. When selecting the Objectives tab on either the Team or Company view, non-managers are shown the Objectives browser immediately. Managers and HR default to the cycle list, but can easily toggle the display to “Browse” mode at the top of the screen. This makes objectives of peers and managers much more visible than before, further strengthening our Objectives feature.

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Take it for a ride

We’re inviting admins to either test the feature for their own account, or to enable it for their entire company. Simply enter the beta program on the admin screen, and select your desired option:

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Next steps

To make it very clear, we’re not forcing this upon anyone, it’s every company’s decision when to test and when to enable the new navigation. We want every customer to be able to complete their current reviews, 360s or objectives cycle with no major change to the navigation.

We plan to making the “final” switch in late Q1, so there’s plenty of time to update any training material.

We’d love to hear your feedback!

We’ve conducted plenty of in-depth user tests and we’re happily using the new navigation internally, and now we’d love to hear from you: Do you like the new approach? Are you keen to roll it out to your entire company? Or do you have concerns or reservations? Let us know your thoughts at product@small-improvements.com.

If you want to test the new navigation using another (non-admin) user account? Send us a mail and we’ll enable it for them too.

 

New in Small Improvements: Request feedback any time (BETA)

Imagine you just finished a project, or you’ve been working with a new skill. You’re curious as to how you did and want some feedback from your peers. But how do you go about getting it?

You might email your colleagues or ask them in person – both approaches have their place, but both lack structure. On top of this, it will be difficult to refer back to your feedback at a later date.

With this in mind, we’re excited to introduce our new Request Feedback feature – a big step towards better helping your employees take ownership of their performance and make continuous improvements. This update allows every employee in your company to request feedback from whomever they want, whenever they want. Not only have we shortened the feedback cycle, but your employees can request feedback as they see fit.

Request Feedback in practice

Let’s say you just organized an event for your company, and want to get some feedback on what your peers thought of it, and how you can improve the next event.
Head over to your dashboard and click on the +Create button in the top right corner. You can read all about the functionalities of this new button on this blogpost. Select “Request Feedback” to reach the feedback form pictured below.

 

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Announcing our new HipChat integration

Our Slack integration has been a resounding success, driving up usage and visibilty of praise and objectives within organisations. We’re now starting to integrate with HipChat too. Today’s release promotes public praise and public objectives to HipChat, encouraging a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

How it works

Admins can set up the integration so that each public praise and each public objective get pushed into HipChat channels immediately. You can find all the details in the documentation page. Then, once any SI users praises another one publicly, this praise gets immediately displayed in the channel you chose. The channel could be a new channel, but you could also pick a common channel everyone is already subscribing to, ensuring engagement is even higher.

Here’s a praise inside Small Improvements:

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We’re phasing out our JIRA and Confluence integrations in February

We integrated Atlassian Confluence and JIRA back in 2011 when we started Small Improvements. We had planned to aggregate dozens of third party systems so that we could display a convenient summary of what a reviewee had been working on.

Despite our best efforts, it turned out that this kind of aggregation was in much lower demand than expected. And unfortunately, even rarely-used integrations constantly incur costs on the development team, and stop us from focusing our full attention on the features that customers really want.

With that in mind, we will stop supporting the Confluence and JIRA integrations on February 1, 2017.

A new hope

Atlasssian Aficionados need not despair though – we’re launching our new HipChat integration today!  Unlike the “passive” integrations with JIRA and Confluence, the HipChat integration will be instant and proactive, we hope it will increase your team’s engagement just as our Slack integration has for those who use it.

Two Small UI Improvements to spice up the navigation

On Monday, December 5th, we’ll introduce two small changes to the SI user interface. We’re adding a new “create-button” and we’re renaming “Dashboard” to “Home”.

The changes are really small, but in case you’re rolling out SI for the first time next week, then you may want to take these into account for your documentation. Let us know if you’d like early access.

Create content from the menu bar

Small Improvements is more fun when more people contribute. We’re on a mission to make it truly engaging for you to create and share objectives, praise coworkers, and request feedback. Via the new “Create” button in the menu bar, everyone is now able to create content from any screen, anywhere inside Small Improvements.

Have a look at the workflow:

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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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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.