O P I N I O N
Grow your team’s empathy by embracing a culture of feedback, realigning your perspective to view feedback as an opportunity, and becoming coachable. Fostering empathy through feedback
C lient experience is founded on employee experience. At Neumann Monson Architects, our path to improving client experience started with internal changes to our review process. For years, we had relied on a traditional, top-down employee review model, but in 2013, we implemented a new system that reflected a non- hierarchal structure. In doing so, we created a culture of feedback that increases our team’s empathy. By embracing feedback, we have taken our firm in a new direction and enhanced our commitment to our clients.
DIRECTOR REVIEWS. Traditionally, our reviews reflected a top-down management structure with employees receiving annual reviews from the principals. This process was widely unpopular and generally ineffective at helping employees grow. At our 2013 firm-wide retreat, we decided to reverse the process and called for an anonymous bottom- up review of the directors. For the staff, this was an important opportunity to voice concerns without fear of retaliation. For the principals, this was an opportunity to learn how we could improve. The staff created the survey with the help of a retreat facilitator. As the results reflected, the staff did not hold back in their responses. The principals decided to meet outside of the office, review the feedback, and discuss how we could change. As we wrapped up, we received a video
from the staff holding up signs saying, “We believe in you.” This represented a turning point for our firm. The principal review was a moment of catharsis, and through this process, we were able to develop a more open dialogue and foster a culture of empathy. 360 REVIEWS. Setting an important precedent, the principals agreed to act without defense and commit to palpable change. At our next firm-wide meeting, we openly addressed critiques and our plans to move forward. To reinvent our internal review system, we implemented 360-peer-reviews where everyone receives feedback from the principals, as well as a cross-section of their peers. Like the principal reviews, we began the process anonymously to ensure everyone felt comfortable
See TIM SCHROEDER, page 10
THE ZWEIG LETTER AUGUST 16, 2021, ISSUE 1404
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