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Business, Dariusz Wylon

At Selleo, we pride ourselves on our ability to help businesses become more efficient. Through our web and software solutions, we’ve worked with dozens of clients to create digital dashboards, SaaS platforms, and more that meet the needs of the companies we work with. Throughout it all, we’ve maintained an extremely high standard not only for the quality of our work, but for the quality of our relationships. Recently, our clients have been letting us know what they thought of our efforts with Clutch.

 

Clutch is a ratings and reviews platform that performs in-depth research on development, design, and marketing agencies around the world. So far, Clutch has examined more than 7,000 companies, providing business buyers with the information they need to choose the right partner for their goals. Although Clutch’s research methodology involves over a dozen factors, it heavily relies on client reviews to represent the performance of a company on their site.

Selleo joined Clutch’s research in May of this year, and, since then, seven of our clients have taken a moment to share their perspectives with the Clutch team. We’re proud of our 4.9-star (out of 5) score average from these reviews, but we’re even more excited about some of the highlights from our clients’ reviews:

 

I’ve been quite impressed with Selleo’s work — they built a beautiful product with outstanding code. From what I’ve been hearing, the app has received a lot of accolades from the industry during conference demos. Selleo takes care of any issues along the way. They are constantly striving to use the latest technology, and the designers followed good standards.

 

I was very impressed with the quality of the frontend work they did, their professionalism, and their organization. They’re a good-sized company with 43 developers. They’ve had a lot of training and don’t move too fast in integrating. They provide outreach programs to the local high schools to try to foster new talent and spread their knowledge, which I feel is sensible and admirable.”

 

Selleo has certainly contributed to our recognition as a market leader by customers and strategic partners. They’ve done this by showing up to retrospective meetings and offering constructive feedback on the process, the design, and the development. As someone who has worked in global software development for a number of years, this is a rare occurrence. Most agencies tend to focus on what they’re being asked to do without offering constructive feedback. Selleo treats this project as if it was their own business, offering great feedback on an almost weekly basis.

 

We’ve always taken pride in the quality of our work and the success it has brought to our clients, but it’s great to hear that our clients take pride in it, too. As we continue our collaboration with Clutch, we’re excited to see what our future clients have to say.

 

You can find the full extent of Clutch’s research and the full text of our reviews on Clutch’s website.

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Business, Dariusz Wylon

Some people say that recruiting and hiring the right candidates takes time, energy and patience. In my opinion hiring process can be a great positive experience both for the candidates as well as for the company. And you should remember that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

It’s especially important in the IT industry where HR departments are doing their best to gather as many CVs as they can. Some departments are so focused on the quantity of new applications that they don’t care about a possible negative effect on the productivity and relationship as the new people will join the team. How many colleagues do you know today who are suffering from the consequences of poor hiring decisions?

Creating awesome posters, websites, messages is really good but the problem is, that behind this top-notch copywriting and design there is the same old fashioned boring job interview.

During those mostly one-on-one conversations and probably some professionally looking assessment, it’s really hard to find a good match for the team. Some candidates seem charming and competent, some of them are really poor, but in most cases their interview is not related with their true performance and ability to work in a work environment. Having all of this in mind I took some of my colleagues and designed the most innovative recruitment process in Poland (yes we get an HR Dream Team Award 2015 for this). Now I would like to share with you … 4 steps TEAM model for HR3.0 process. Following those steps you can change your regular job interview into an engaging process which allows candidates to feel the organizational culture, embrace team productivity and experience self-organization or any other value important for your team.

 

Target change — Step 1

Forget about the typical job interview approach and all the things you’ve been using till today. No more dumb questions about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, plans for the next 5 years and similar interview killers. No more personality assessments and questionnaires. Use your creativity, break the HRoutine chains and design a process which will be an unforgettable experience for all the candidates. Look for a positive change that can be your differentiator on the recruitment market. The hiring patterns you establish today will determine the kind of culture, service standards, and reputation you will have tomorrow.

 

Empower people — Step 2

It is probably the strangest part of hiring process in most companies. All the decisions about hiring are made by the people who actually won’t work with those candidates in the future. Involve people who are supposed to work with newbies and allow them to select the ones they want. Let them decide on both soft-skills as well as the technical ones. They are more skilled to evaluate the qualities and personality of the new co-worker than you or anyone from the HR department. Check together if there is a match between the candidates and peers and are they able to reach the desired output in the future.

 

Appreciate personality — Step 3

Hire for attitude and train for skill. Design a process focused on the ability and aptitude to learn new things. Personality really matters and in some cases it’s far more important than technical skills. If one is an open-minded and fast learner such person can easily master new technologies or skills. Being able to communicate with the rest of the group and having self-organization approach seems to be more important and harder to learn.

 

Make the difference — Step 4

Apply your brilliant idea instead of what you have now. Design a process which really helps the team to reach its goals, not the goals of the HR department. Think about creating something which can simulate the real work environment and will be a source of joy and positive attitude. Design a process to get the specific attitudes you want to verify skills and values needed. Spread happiness and empowerment across your company. Manage candidate experience and create solid brand within the potential candidates.


The Selleo Way

All the steps in our recruitment process based on the TEAM model were described by my colleague Szymon in this articleFor me, the most innovative and important parts are “Organizational culture, communication and self-organization workshop” based on Management 3.0 concepts and three fully paid pair-programming days scheduled during normal working hours with the actual teammate on real project tasks.
Being focused on personality and believing that team working skills are as important as the technical ones we see our recruitment process as the extension of our approach to managing company and deal with our community of engaged co-workers on a daily basis.

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Business, Dariusz Wylon

Software companies providing outsourcing services usually prefer time-and-materials pricing model rather than fixed-price one. With the use of time-and-materials, the project time is approximately estimated, but the final cost and date are not defined, clients have the possibility to add changes on the go and payment depends on the hours spent (hourly rate). With the fixed-price engagement, clients cannot make the changes during the development process (unless the contract is amended) and the project scope, deadlines and final price are set at the beginning of the collaboration. At first glance, this (fixed-price) could be tempting as it sounds like a promise of delivering what you need with the time frame and costs of your choice. So what are the key reasons showing that time-and-materials model is most beneficial for both a client and a service provider?

 

Competitive advantage with user-centric approach and market sensitivity in mind

 

With the ability to change initial requirements and improve features throughout the development process, you gain the flexibility to follow market trends or switching customers needs. You can quickly adjust your ideas to the current business environment, and influence the scope, features and delivery plans to gain successful project and high-level technology-implementation quality. Unlike the fixed-price model, hourly rate approach ensures business-level control on your project. You can, for example, decide, based on your current situation, if you prefer tweaking the scope and adding some extra nice-to-have features or spend additional time on code quality.

 

Involvement in the process and ability to stop the line

 

You are the one who sets the backlog priorities, software developers follow your business-value track, and after the project kick-off, you are benefiting from the synergy between your domain knowledge and the technological expertise of a development team.With this kind of engagement, the project can evolve, as you are using the skills and experience, the company gathered while working with previous clients within same technology, industry or business domain. Short feedback loops, allows you to stop the line and change the direction of the project to end up with the best outcome at a given time. There’s no need for contract renegotiation or several meetings to estimate new specifications.

 

Business risk reduction and control of costs

 

As the fixed-price contract scope no restricts you, it can be pretty sure that the outcome will fully correspond your expectations. You possess the total control over both deliverables and the budget. Instead of developing the complete project you can decide to focus on the MVP first and then check if some changes in the requirements are needed. Developers can code with quality in mind, and you are charged only for the actual work and time spend on your project. You can track the progress and decide which way to go from your business and financial perspective. If you think some features are to cost or time-consuming, you can always change it or remove from the backlog. Moreover, in contrary to fixed-price engagement, you can decide to terminate the agreement if you are not satisfied with the code quality, skills or communication.

 

Fixed-price use-case scenario

 

Fixed-price contracts make sense when the outcome of the collaboration process is a small software project with precise requirements, set specifications and defined timelines.

If, at the beginning of the partnership you are sure that

– you won’t change the scope of the project (there will be no need for additional features, functionalities, device or browser compatibility),

– your project is deliberately short and easy to implement,

– you are convinced about the outcome of the process,

– the business environment you are providing the solution for is stable, and there will be no need to enhance the project in future,

– you can compromise on code quality,

– your clients’ needs are evident, and you’ve conducted some research with the target audience to confirm them,

you should discuss the fixed-price pricing model.

 

Summary

 

Agile methodologies require time-and-materials pricing model. The client’s ability to be involved in the development process, prioritize backlog and adjust to the end-users’ needs with evolving requirements are, in most cases, the key to the market success of a service or a product. And as a result of such partnership, you will, from the very beginning, receive a working software solution which, after a few iterations, become a well tested and 100% functional system. You are the owner both of the code and the process and can decide what is most important right now and which way you would like to go to reach your business goals.

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Business, Dariusz Wylon

My presentation from Agile in the City conference showing how we used the agile approach to create a self-organising company. Starting with Management 3.0 tools and techniques and coaching people how to be self-organised and self-managed, we created a company without managers which is now based on the circles and roles as seen in Holacracy or Sociocracy 3.0.

Our approach is designed around the ‘6 Es of self-organisation’:

  • enable everyone to improve the system
  • engage people and their interactions
  • encourage a knowledge sharing culture
  • employ for attitude not for skill
  • empower people to create the system
  • ensure happiness at work
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Business, Dariusz Wylon

As I mentioned last time, here are some key concepts for applying change in organizations, based on the “How to change the world.”

At first you have to know your organization and be aware of the fact that, as a complex adaptive system, it will not only adapt to what you do but also requires you to adapt to its responds. The practical solution proposed by the book author to inspect and adapt to a system is a PDCA model popularized by W. E. Deming as a quality management tool for continuous improvement.

You should dance with a system in this ongoing cycle of planning direction and setting goals, making small steps with implementing ideas, searching for response by measuring feedback and evaluating success by analyzing the results.

Tool: Four-step PDCA change improvement process

Plan — Identifying the change and setting goals

What is your goal? Where is it going well?

 

Do — introducing and implementing solutions

What are the crucial steps? When and where do you start?

 

Check — measuring feedback and effectiveness

How do you get feedback? How do you measure results?

 

Act — analyzing results and improving accordingly

How do you accelerate results?

Next, if you understood your system well you should now mind the people. Being a crucial part of any organization people are different and it’s extremely important to recognize their individual needs and mind barriers to deal with them effectively. The help offered by the book comes with ADKAR model popularized by Jeff Hiatt. This goal-oriented approach to change offers a set of activities which facilitate keeping in mind people aspect through organizational transition. With it’s five dimensions it provides strong ability to judge the level of change “readiness” among the employees at each phase of the change process. It points that successful change in the people mindsets requires making sure that they are not only aware of the plan but also have a kind of desire for change. You also have to equip them with the necessary knowledge and ability for this. And when the change process seems to be finished it’s important to reinforce it to keep the change in place.

Tool: ADKAR Change Competency Mode

A Awareness of the need for change

How will you communicate? How will you set an example?

 

D Desire to support and participate in the change

How do you make it urgent? How do you make it desirable?

 

K Knowledge of how to change

Who will be teaching? How will you teach them?

 

A Ability to launch required skills and behaviors

What makes it easy? How can they practice?

 

R Reinforcement to sustain the change

What are the short-term wins? What makes it sustainable?

 

Finally, as an organization can be thought as a complex system which constitutes of several interdependent social networks where behaviours can spread like viruses. You can allow for the expansion of gossips about the change or make sure that you are reaching out different kinds of people in the network with the proper messages and approaches. To attain this goals one can implement a very simple and powerful solution which is based on the theory called the Diffusion of Innovations which can be used to explain how, why, and at what rate new concepts spread through organizations. With the innovation adoption curve people within the organization can be categorized into initiators, innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards accordingly to the way they perceive the change.

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Business, Dariusz Wylon

In the dynamic business environment companies are adjusting their management model or business processes to gain competitive advantage, suite best their clients, reach company’s goals or just adapt working environment to the employees needs. And all these reasons are about introducing, adopting and sustaining some kind of change. So there’s no secret that also agile organizations are in the need of change. A change can be challenging, sudden, painful or it can be welcomed and planned. We want to be more agile or maybe some of us realized that apart from our wishful thinking that we are the followers of Agile Manifesto we’ve honestly used it just to software development but not to the entire process of running a company. As we’ve implemented agile techniques to speed up development time and reduce risks involved while on the other hand became more responsive to customers needs we have to stop for a while and answer one simple question.

 

Are we able to apply agility to the change management process?

If you are looking for some tips how to spark a change that engages people hearts as well as minds I would highly recommend you an amazing book by Jurgen AppeloHow to change the world. On the 60 pages you will find a kind of framework to implement an organizational change in a way that everyone’s talents and creativity can be sparkled.

 

Jurgen’s Change Management 3.0 process is a mixture of well-known tools (he calls it the Mojito Method) which he combines with the four aspects of change management. With his guide you are not alone and if you just know your goal, team and organization you can get through the step by step process and make people more agile, better educated, more cooperative and more willing to adopt the change.

In the next article I will discuss some key insights from this book.

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Business, Dariusz Wylon, Szymon Kieloch

In a hypercompetitive business environment people development must become a core competency for all companies that strive to achieve the highest levels of performance. To build a long-term value of the organization senior developers need to commit to investing their time and resources to help individual develop appropriate skills and knowledge. Experienced developers should be able to create an exciting and challenging relationship that inspires others to strive for the highest levels of capability.

 

Our mentoring program tends to focus not only on preparing developers for their future responsibilities but also on showing them how to conduct co-mentoring with other colleagues. In this lead by example approach our mentoring philosophy is based on such values as education, experience, exposure and inspiration.

To support our senior developers in becoming great mentors and empower them with an ability to be a transformational figure in an individual’s development, we introduced development paths with all materials needed in one place, and one-to-one coaching sessions.

Below is an example of our approach to building relationship between mentors and mentees.

MENTORING TIPS FOR SENIOR SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS

  1. At the beginning, don’t set any rules, be a guide and show some paths that can be followed.

  2. Build relationship based on trust and mutual understanding. Don’t let your mentees to feel alone. Be always open for questions / suggestions / feedback.

  3. Don’t be disrespectful for the mentee, just because she is a new worker. Treat a mentee just like any other developer, e.g. while discussing things, when she come up with a gem, or library – listen to arguments, discuss tradeoffs.

  4. Allow the mentee to grow & feel confident in this what she does, by simply encouraging for experiments and digging deeper. Increasing confidence is important in order to learn new things easily.

  5. Guide the person to the solution, do not solve problem for mentee.

  6. Ask often for feedback, do quick and fast retrospectives over the learning process. Encourage thinking about that, e.g. by writing down whenever something come up in their minds.

  7. Consider using pictures / flow diagrams for explaining / simplifying explanation of logic, e.g. when explaining how the data flows from the user to the controller & DB. Use piece of paper & draw simple pictures / pseudo code with explanation for the problem.

  8. Don’t expect that your mentee will know everything within the app. It’s possible that she is adjusting her mindset to work with a rails project.

  9. Don’t put too much attention to code style, it will be good with time. Don’t try to enforce that, just encourage for using proper things, e.g. symbols instead of strings within the hash.

  10. From the beginning, teach responsibility for the project, without any kind of a “punishment”, but allow to give certain responsibility to the person, for instance by allowing on her own deploying things on production.

  11. Allow mentee to make mistakes, in this way she will learn to take chances, explore and think for herself.

  12. When mistakes become learning opportunities, everything changes. Mentees will be more eager to solve problems on their own in the future.

  13. If the mentee finds out what problem she has, e.g. with the app, allow her to explain what it is about, where the issue might be. Then ask her about as many ideas on solving it as possible and discuss them together. If you don’t find the solution in her ideas explain your assumptions about the problem and together dig down into that. If she doesn’t know about the issue / how to dig it, explain it.

  14. Each time, when solving a problem, present a solution and evaluate tradeoffs of implementing that.

  15. Deliver as many details of the problem as necessary. Firstly describe the basic concept behind, then how it could be implemented. Encourage the person to explain the implementation, how it could be implemented, it’s a way for reassuring that the person understands how to solve the problem. If the mentee still doesn’t know, repeat the same thing, slowly, using e.g. piece of paper.
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Błażej Kosmowski, Business, Dariusz Wylon, Grzegorz Rduch, Michał Czyż

Selleo’s MMS – a 360-degree feedback system with monetary rewards

We have so far presented 3 elements of the Selleo’s feedback system in the series; the previous articles described the following components:

  • RevYou – an online service where developers exchange feedback geared towards technical skills development and knowledge sharing, and
  • client satisfaction surveys, which provide service delivery teams with the clients’ feedback on the quality of products built as well as the level of service delivered,

This blog post is focused on MMS (Merit Money System) – a system which enables each and every Selleo team member to reward their co-workers with kudos (reward points which convert to bonuses) as a token of appreciation for their colleagues’ efforts, performance, demeanor and other aspects they deem worth rewarding.

In many companies and organizations it is the managers who act as the primary – if not the only – feedback givers; even more often, those managers are also the only agents who evaluate and reward the work of the employees who report to them. We believe there are better ways to manage feedback, evaluation and reward. MMS is an attempt to create an alternative to the more traditional approaches.

Each Selleo co-worker has a pool of 20 kudos (reward points), which they are free to share with their co-workers every week. The few co-workers who are involved in interactions with a number of colleagues have as many as 40 kudos to share. Importantly, each and every co-worker is free to decide who will be rewarded as well as what they grant their kudos for, be it successful sale, smooth collaboration on a project, good demo, assistance, guidance, blog article publication, hiring or training a new colleague, helping with acquiring foreign language skills, event organization, someone’s personal merits, a colleague’s wedding, etc. – to cite just a few comments from the system.

The system is administered via a web service and is based on limited visibility: all the co-workers can see the top three collectors – the colleagues who received the biggest number of kudos – during the previous week, as well as the so-called “hamsters” – those who were particularly reluctant to share their kudos with others.

Besides, everyone can also see the kudos they have received along with the comments attached to them. Everyone can also review all the other submitted comments and thus find out what sort of attitudes, actions or behaviours are rewarded; the co-workers cannot see who such comments were submitted by, nor can they identify the recipient.

Apart from being good fun, this solution is also believed to be a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. The number of kudos a given co-worker collects, has a significant impact on the bonus they receive; the other – less significant factor – being the co-worker’s seniority. Generally speaking, the more appreciation you receive from your colleagues in the form of kudos, the bigger the bonus that eventually lands in your pocket. The system is administered via a simple web application, and was inspired by Jurgen Appelo and his concept of Merit Money. You can find out more about it in his recently published book: “Management 3.0. Workout. Games, Tools & Practices to Engage People, Improve Work, and Delight Clients.”You may review the Merit Money concept itself here.

Towards a more holistic approach – the merits of MMS

It seems that the MMS offers two main advantages from our perspective. Firstly, the conventional evaluation and reward systems administered by managers often encourage competitiveness rather than cooperation. With MMS it is the other way round. The people are often rewarded for collaboration as well as building and maintaining good working relationships with their colleagues. They are thus incentivised to support and help one another rather than compete against one another.

Secondly, if 80% of people perceive their performance to be better than average, chances are high that a large number of employees might feel frustrated that their efforts are undervalued or not rewarded properly; the risk seems much bigger with conventional solutions, where it is usually only the managers / superiors who assess those who report to them and decide on the rewards.

With MMS it is impossible to completely rule out the feeling of disappointment on the part of some co-workers, but the fact that it is a far more holistic solution makes the disappointment less likely to occur. One may in fact feel treated more objectively and/or fairly if the assessment comes from all those they work with rather than just a single individual.

What is more, as MMS is a continuous assessment and reward mechanism, the risk that somebody’s contributions will be disregarded, is also less likely.

 

Why so much hassle for feedback?

Each and every co-worker is free to gather, analyse and assess the information flowing to them from their daily encounters and interactions, team reviews and regular company updates, 360-degree feedback sessions, technical reviews and comments in RevYou, client questionnaires and other sources. They can then judge the impact their colleagues exert on them, their team and/or the company and choose to reward their co-workers’ contributions accordingly. In doing so they shape their own working environment themselves and – most probably – the future of the company.

Still, most importantly, you are provided with a lot of valuable feedback which enables you to better understand yourself, your weaknesses and strengths as well as the impact of your attitudes, actions and demeanor on other people. With such input at hand you are free to embark on an intriguing quest for self-awareness, professional growth and personal development. And who knows, you may become a better professional, colleague, friend, or simply, a better human being.

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Błażej Kosmowski, Business, Dariusz Wylon, Grzegorz Rduch, Michał Czyż

Satisfaction surveys – feedback for better product and service quality

 

We all have been clients on multiple occasions and are – on the whole – fairly good at recognizing and appreciating good products and solid customer service. Still it is by no means easy to put oneself in the client’s shoes, thoroughly understand them and their specific needs as well as to use the understanding to build and deliver solutions that go beyond the client’s expectations. No matter how hard the challenge may be, meeting it is a very rewarding experience indeed.

 

You do not need to guess blindly what actually makes your client satisfied; you can engage them and lead them to provide you with insights on what supreme product and service actually mean to them. Systematically gathering, analysing and acting upon your clients’ feedback may very well enable you to better understand your customers’ concerns and expectations and ultimately help you deliver a product and service which is likely to delight rather than just be accepted by those you serve. Importantly – in doing so – you and your team are very likely to grow professionally and get better equipped to both attract and satisfy more customers in the future.

 

Client feedback sources


At Selleo, as in many other companies using Scrum, we collect and process feedback which emerges on a continuous basis from Scrum events held together with the clients’ product owners as well as from other encounters with the clients’ stakeholders. On top of that, however, we regularly conduct client satisfaction surveyswhich help specific individuals and/or teams to identify their own strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities for improvement as seen by the specific client stakeholders they deliver service to.

The observations made by clients from without the organization together with the conclusions they draw from their interactions with the team can provide invaluable input with which to design and develop better software products but also with which to create memorable customer experiences in the process of service delivery.

 

The survey – inspirations and adaptations

The client satisfaction survey designed and implemented in Selleo is based on the questionnaires devised and advocated by David H. Maister, the author of “Managing The Professional Service Firm” and “The Trusted Advisor”.

 
 

The author’s survey meant to elicit customer feedback was modified to better suit the business context we operate in; the modifications introduced help to capture the specific character of the service delivered by a software development house which is in principle preoccupied with designing and building custom software solutions (products!) together with the clients who commission the service. Accordingly, the survey is divided into two parts: one focused on the assessment of the quality of the product delivered (what) and the other which concentrates on the quality of the process of service delivery (how).

 

Product quality part aims to establish if and to what extent the client is satisfied with the technical characteristics of the solution crafted, such as its reliability, responsiveness, user-friendliness, the quality of visual design and the like. The first part is sometimes modified to reflect the specific requirements of a given client engagement / project.

As regards the service quality part of the survey, the criteria/questions have been grouped into a few categories, each centred on a different aspect of service delivery: the team’s overall attitude, accessibility and timing, process and communications, relationship management, contributions and the client’s overall impression.

* Overall attitude.The client can review and assess the team in terms of how accurate and careful they are in their approach to work. While filling in the survey, they can also indicate whether the team members are proactive and anticipate potential problems and issues as well as if they offer creative solutions.

* Time. In this section of the survey, the clients assess whether the team members are easily accessible time-wise. Other crucial factors include the team’s ability to work on deadline and ensure fast development at the client’s request.

* Process and communications. Clients are asked to provide feedback on how effective the communication with the team members is. The factors that usually inhibit mutual understanding and efficient collaboration include technical jargon, poor documentation of the work done, insufficient and/or untimely explanations regarding the solutions implemented and actions planned. Thus clients evaluate if the team members can listen actively, keep the client updated on what is going on in their project and if the team are willing to deal with problems openly and quickly. The survey helps to make sure the process runs smoothly, the team communicate effectively and – importantly – the client feels they are involved, on track and in control.

 

* Relationship. Good relationships with customers and, more specifically, with the people working at the client end, are the foundation of productive and long-lived cooperation. What is more, satisfying relationships are often a key factor behind recurrent projects and referrals, i.e., the business development practices the company strives for and greatly appreciates. In this section of the survey, clients can evaluate if the team members make them feel they and their needs are important to the team, if the team are easy to collaborate with and if they are proactive in offering support and helpful advice.

* Contributions. It seems that one of the key factors in delivering unique customer experience may very well be the ability of the service provider to go beyond their narrowly defined value proposition. Thus it is a good idea to use the survey to find out if the client served feel that the team go beyond technological and implementation issues and if they understand the client business and the broader business context within which the client and their solution operate. It makes perfect sense to make sure the team are able to make valuable product contributions and are helpful in diagnosing the causes of the client’s problems, identifying the opportunities their clients face and redefining the client’s view of their situation. Some clients may surely not expect it, yet they are truly impressed when you are able to offer the kind of insights and contributions. Why not ask your client if you actually do so?

 

Gathering and processing the client feedback

The survey is administered online. The client needs about 10 minutes to evaluate the service delivery team against 35 performance criteria. Still some clients choose to elaborate on their assessment by providing more extensive and insightful feedback in the comments sections of the questionnaire. If the team wish so, they may also discuss the results and/or clarify specific points directly with the feedback giver during a joint review session. Having received their clients’ survey results the teams usually identify the areas where they exhibit the greatest weaknesses and undertake to work on one or two issues before they move on to tackle the the other opportunities for improvement.

The feedback provided by the client enables the team members to put themselves in their client’s shoes and better understand the experience the latter are going through. As a result, the team get a much better position to deliver the service which meets or even surpasses the client expectations. Last but not least, the insights thus received may provide directions to both the team as a whole and to the individual team members on how to become more professional in their approach.

Post Scriptum

If you are working with a software development service provider and would like to use the survey with them, feel free to contact me (g.rduch “at” selleo.com) – I am more than willing to share it.

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Błażej Kosmowski, Business, Dariusz Wylon, Grzegorz Rduch, Michał Czyż

Feedback – a quest for self-awareness, professional growth and personal development.

Feedback is a double-edged sword. You may have received useless feedback which raised frustration or even anger and thus had no positive impact on the people involved. Still feedback can become a crucial and valuable element of both workplace communication and private life, transforming people, the relationships they build as well as the social environments within which they live and grow.

Properly provided and received, feedback enables you to find out more about yourself and your actions; in particular, you gain insights into how the other people you interact with perceive you and your behaviour. As such feedback may help you more objectively identify your weaknesses and strengths as well as the areas of potential growth and development.

Acting on the conviction stated above, the Selleo team have been experimenting with feedback extensively and – in doing so – have developed a constructive feedback system which supports the co-workers – as individuals as well as members of teams and a community of work – in their attempts to understand themselves and each other better as well as to facilitate their professional and personal growth. The Selleo feedback system consists of a few apparently connected elements:

  • 360-degree feedback sessions, where each individual is free to exchange feedback with their work circle, i.e., all the co-workers the person interacts with,
  • RevYou – an online service which helps to ensure that the code a developer submits is thoroughly reviewed by their colleagues;
  • client satisfaction surveys, which enable those who serve a specific client to elicit the client’s assessment of the quality of solutions implemented as well as the level of service delivered, and finally,
  • MMS (Merit Money System) – a system which enables each and every Selleo team member to reward their co-workers with kudos (reward points which convert to bonuses) as a token of appreciation for their colleagues’ efforts, performance, demeanor and other aspects they deem worth rewarding.

The following text is the first article in a series which aims to describe the different components of the Selleo feedback system in greater detail.


360-degree feedback sessions

One of the elements of the feedback system in Selleo is a periodically organized 360-degree feedback session. We were inspired to experiment with the practice by Jurgen Appelo and his Management 3.0book. To cut a long story short, each co-worker – whatever their position or area of responsibility – is invited to take part in a gathering during which the participants are free to give and receive feedback to and from each other. Participation in the session is not obligatory and you are free to refrain from either providing feedback for a specific individual or receiving feedback from them. Despite the voluntary basis, about 60-70% of the people choose to take part in the event, and the fraction of those who choose to attend has been growing steadily. The feedback exchanged is usually focused on performance, behaviour, communications and attitudes.

Rules for giving and receiving feedback

Providing and receiving feedback in a constructive way can be quite a challenge and a daunting task indeed. Some people initially struggle because they simply do not know how to give another person feedback or receive feedback from them; few people have been trained or offered an opportunity to practise the skill before. Thus we chose to introduce a couple of rules which make the whole process easier for the participants to handle. We have opted for and advocate the following set of rules for giving feedback:

1. Give feedback only when the recipient is ready to take it.

2. Always maintain eye contact with the recipient. Admittedly, looking somebody in the eye may feel hard, especially if you are about to criticise their behaviour. However, people who maintain eye contact are generally considered more confident, honest, and reliable. They seem interested in the interlocutor, who in turn are more likely to accept the message.

3. Be specific. Your recipient must know exactly what you think they did well/wrong – focus on some specific behaviour that caught your attention, rather than a generic evaluation of a person. The former is more descriptive and based on your observations, while the latter seems more judgmental, accusatory, and refers to your interpretations, which may be flawed. Try to avoid statements starting with “You…”, and replace them with “I-messages” instead.

4. Provide both negative and/or positive feedback as need but use feedback sandwich with caution. Feedback sandwich is a technique used mainly with negative feedback, when you want to highlight delicately the mistake of a feedback recipient. To achieve this, you sandwich criticism between two pieces of praise. The idea behind this method is to make the negative feedback more palatable to the recipient. If you use positive feedback to balance a negative message, it may diminish the value of your praise and the feedback recipient might feel it is not genuine.

5. Focus on the feelings the behaviour evokes in YOU. When giving feedback, use “I-messages” to express how a person’s behaviour affects you and your work, trying to be as specific as possible. If you concentrate on your own feelings, the recipient does not feel attacked and is less likely to get defensive. On the contrary, it creates more favourable conditions for self-reflection and awareness that might lead to future improvement.

6. State clearly what your expectations are. Specify what kind of behaviour you expect and suggest a few alternatives on how to change things for the better. Explain how the expected change in behaviour will affect you and your work.

7. Be realistic and do not expect the impossible.

 

Guidelines for receiving feedback.

It is a good idea to remember that as a participant you aim to become aware of how you and your work is perceived by others and to gain some insights on possible improvements. The following rules may help you benefit from the feedback you get.

1. Taking part in a 360-degree feedback session is voluntary. Besides, you do not have to accept feedback from a given individual without giving a reason for your decision.

2. Do not interrupt the feedback giver, while they are reviewing your behaviour. A lot of people will feel the need to discuss the comments, try to justify their actions or even deny what they hear. Don’t do it, just listen. The point is to understand the other person’s perspective. Naturally, you are allowed to ask for clarification if anything remains unclear.

3. Use the feedback received to reflect on your performance, behaviour or attitude in question. Think through any constructive feedback or suggestion you may hear and remember that negative information can be useful and you are free to use it to your own advantage. You may share your reflections with the feedback giver and tell them what you are planning to do with the feedback, but it is not a must.

4. You are the only person to decide to what extent you are going to take the feedback into account, which – if any – changes you are going to implement and what you are going to do with the information you received.

The advantages of 360-degree feedback sessions.

One of the unquestionable benefits of such 360-degree feedback is that the recipient is provided with feedback from a wide range of people working with them, and not just the managers or business owners. The approach allows one to understand and combine varied perspectives and arrive at a holographic picture of oneself and one’s contributions to the company. The feedback recipient can also gain a better understanding of how their behaviour and specific actions affect the work of other people in their team or, more broadly, in the working community. The received feedback is richer and more meaningful, and is thus more likely to lead to long-lasting effects, e.g., behavioral changes and improvements. Unlike traditional feedback approaches, 360 feedback sessions seem to encourage teamwork, foster better working relationships and increase the awareness of mutual dependency.

It is worth noting that the group sessions do not eliminate the need for one-on-one feedbackencounters. Some people in the company still choose to sort things out in private and the experiences from the group sessions simply help them conduct their exchanges more smoothly.

Thanks to the feedback sessions and encounters, the Selleo co-workers are provided with an opportunity to reflect upon their strengths and weaknesses as well as the impact they have on their colleagues, their team and the company.

They are often lead to identify opportunities to improve and grow both professionally and personally. Admittedly, this may not be a perfect working environment for everybody, but if you are eager to develop your professional and social competencies in dynamic interaction with your colleagues, then perhaps you might like to meet the challenge.

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