If you’re short on time, the quick answer is that we created WIRL to empower employees. Continuous feedback is just how we achieve employee empowerment.
If you want a little more context on the origin of WIRL – read on.
Over the past few months we’ve begun to hit our stride. We got the right people on the bus and are working towards an incredible feedback solution and user experience for employees. We’ve bootstrapped our business without any recourse, and maybe it was me being shrewd or just wanting to prove the business model further, but I wanted to make sure that I could say with utmost confidence that this was going to be a successful venture before asking others to come on board. The time has come now where our vision of growing the business and winning in our marketplace will benefit by an infusion of investor capital. So begins our newest challenge.
We’ve already forged strong relationships with a diverse set of brilliant advisors and veterans in the investment community. And given that we’re a feedback company – we’ve received some great advice about what to start, stop and keep doing. Also, we’ve observed two commonalities between the savviest advisors, investors and partners.
First, no one asked to see our product. Initially I was taken back as I had done hundreds of demos in the past, but not one asked “to WIRL” in the first few meetings. I probed (one of our now advisors) why they didn’t, and the response was simple: “I bet on the people, not on the product”. Got it – and this sheds light on the second commonality.
The one question they all did ask was “Why WIRL?” And without any real reflection – this is what I answered.
WIRL was conceived from personal experiences. First thing you need to know is that I was raised by a single mother who worked all sorts of jobs to put my sister and I through an extremely competitive level of tennis. Now the average person spends a third of their life at work, and generally brings their work mood home with them. But my mom was working 12-16 hours a day – so naturally her mood was influenced by her work. And after listening to her countless stories, it became evident that her work was influenced by her managers and coworkers. It was during this time that I saw the direct impact that empowerment had on an employee’s well being. When she worked in an environment that provided her with a voice and provided her with feedback – she was engaged, committed and extremely productive. When she worked in a toxic environment and couldn’t do anything about it – she smiled on the outside but was hurting on the inside.
Fast forward several years, experiences, jobs, teammates and managers later, I had my own stories to draw from. I saw the positive impact that managers who empowered their teams had on engagement and output, and vice-versa, I saw the detriment that so-called managers had on retention and overall business results. I also saw how broken the current “periodic performance review” process was. Most employees didn’t care for them because they felt forced and contrived by the company. The few managers that took performance reviews seriously were actually in pain. I literally saw a 50-year-old manager pulling an all-nighter, digging through old emails, trying to remember what their employees did throughout the year…but at least they cared. The vast majority took the easy route and copy and pasted comments from past reviews or wrote a sentence or two from the most recent body of work they could remember (generally the last 30-40 days prior to review time). Companies were making critical HR decisions based on gut feel or stale data from an employee satisfaction survey that was administered every 1-2 years. These surveys cost a ton of money, took a ton of time to fill out and took even longer to analyze. The one positive these surveys did was provide employees with a voice. But having a voice once every 1-2 years? I don’t think this qualifies as empowerment, though I do think it qualifies as bullshit 🙂
The answer to WHY we created WIRL is to solve these problems and empower employees. The answer to HOW we empower employees is through continuous feedback.
This allows employees to always know what they’re doing well, and where they can improve. This allows managers to make data driven people decisions. And most importantly it provides employees with a voice all the time.
A WIRL-d of thanks for reading!
We’re a feedback company, so we seriously welcome your feedback. If you want to chat about this more or care to share your own employee feedback stories feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org