At ITS, we believe taking the time to reflect on the past year can improve plans for the coming year. An important aspect of that reflection is the feedback we receive from our teams. Our team members can influence company goals and initiate both immediate and long-term changes.
The question is: what’s the best way to acquire that feedback? Traditional methods like internal, online surveys may be convenient, but they don’t always capture the scale and variety of responses we’re looking for. Some team members may forget to respond, some may be too busy to craft written responses, and some may find it intimidating to submit an opinion, whether good or bad.
As you complete your own year in review, we want to share a feedback method that proved successful for ITS. Using “Start, Stop, Continue,” we acquired thorough, honest feedback from a large portion of our team.
What is “Start, Stop, Continue”?
“Start, Stop, Continue” is a reflection technique that prompts team members to supply feedback using a defined structure:
- Start: What would you like us to start doing?
- Stop: What would you like us to stop doing?
- Continue: What would you like us to continue doing?
This structure encourages critiques from every angle: we learn what we’re doing really well, what we’re doing well but could be doing better, and what we’re not doing so well.
And these questions—purposefully broad—can spark a large range of ideas, from the micro to the macro, from the technical to the operational, from the department level to the company level. For example: what benefits, events, or tools would you like the company to start offering? What internal processes are repetitive and could be stopped or streamlined? What aspects of our company culture do you appreciate and wish to continue?
How does it work?
We incorporated “Start, Stop, Continue” feedback sessions into our annual, department-level kickoff meetings. Our goal was to foster a collaborative, discussion-based environment.
- Prior to the meetings, we explained the new feedback style to our team. We wanted to get ideas churning in advance.
- During the meetings, we broke each department into groups of three to four team members.
- For fifteen to twenty minutes, each group discussed feedback using the “Start, Stop, Continue” structure. They considered ideas at the department level and company level.
- Each group presented their ideas to their departments.
- After the meetings, department- and executive-level leadership reviewed the feedback and determined what actionable steps could be taken.
Why was it successful?
We consider this to be one of our most effective year-end reflection processes to date. It generated comprehensive feedback about ITS from a large number of team members.
Here are a few reasons why we believe it worked so well:
- Using simple but structured prompts ensured that feedback was thorough and not one-sided. Team members supplied both positives and negatives.
- Holding the feedback opportunity during required, department-level meetings enabled more team members to participate and provided them with a designated time to reflect.
- Organizing small, familiar discussion groups allowed team members to feel comfortable speaking up, and to do so honestly and constructively.
This year, with the simple switch from in-person discussions to virtual meetings, “Start, Stop, Continue” can prove just as effective. Has your team tested out this method? Let us know in the comments below.
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