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BlogMay 16, 2024

Cultivating a feedback culture: Insights from Annabelle, our HR manager

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Having a culture of feedback is essential for fostering open communication, continuous improvement, and building strong relationships within any organization.

At Merchery, we stand as a startup prioritizing well-being and tailored to meet the expectations and aspirations of our workforce mainly composed of millennials & gen Z individuals. This means managing their needs and desires while aligning with the company's overall objectives. At the helm of fostering this culture is Annabelle, most known as Annab, our HR manager. She’s therefore putting in place a lot of HR initiatives to make sure everyone feels valued in this company. Recently, she introduced the feedbacks which are amazing communication tools. We took a moment with her as she tells us all about this new initiative. Listen to her as she gives her insights & benefits of such an action.

Who are you? Can you describe your job?

“I’m Annabelle and I’m the HR Manager at Merchery. I'm there to look after the general well-being of the team and ensure the smooth running of all administrative aspects relating to team members. I wear multiple hats and I'm also often seen as the 'mom' of the group.

One of my big mission is to contribute to the creation of a strong corporate culture and consistent HR practices. Every day, I assess everyone's well-being and development at work and lead the way to improvement.

My role also includes a more administrative part such as managing payroll, overseeing administrative processes and monitoring the full recruitment cycle. But what I love the most is the human aspect of my role. This includes, among other things, making sure the workplace is always clean and welcoming, celebrating everyone birthday, and organizing team building events to create a great team dynamic and cohesion.

Overall, my main aim, and that’s why I’m doing this job, is to ensure that every member of our team feels supported and valued within our company.”

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Can you talk more about the feedback culture and why it’s so important?

“We aim for a culture of open dialogue and continuous feedback. I mean, isn't good communication the cornerstone of any successful team? That’s why last year, we introduced the quarterly feedback sessions.

Those feedback sessions have several objectives:

  • Identifying the key skills required for each role, providing a clear framework for skill assessment and ensuring everyone understands what's expected of them.
  • Pinpoint individual strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Identifying development needs and focusing efforts. Both for the individual side and the company side.
  • Once the needs have been identified, define a clear action plan and track progress more easily.

As we want our team to grown in a supportive way, we focus on giving constructive feedback and highlighting the positives. While there's always room for improvement, these sessions also serve as opportunities to recognize achievements and positive aspects.

Finally, beyond boosting morale, the feedback sessions also helps the resolution of any misunderstandings, clarify expectations, and overall strengthening working relationships making us all work together even better.”

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Who gives the feedbacks? Managers, peers, teams?

”At Merchery, we have a structure that is quite horizontale. Our team is composed as such : we have Sim & Ben, the founders that leads the company (because, yes, we still need some guidance). Then we have ‘subject owners’ that each take care of a specific subject - Products, HR, Production, Markcom, Sales, Operations, Tech. Specifically, some ‘subject owners’ have a team of 1, 2 or more people. We see it as sub-teams with a specific focus, in order to have a well organized and efficient company.

To maintain effective communication and a healthy work environment, feedback goes both ways: the manager give feedback to his team members, and the other-way-around too, team members to their managers. We believe this is essential for fostering open communication, preventing micro-management, abuse of authority, and minimizing frustrations.”

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How is it concretely put in place at Merchery?

“The feedback period takes place 4 times a year in January, April, July, October. After each quarter, we meet with each team member and his or her manager. The feedback is based on 4 key topics - performance, collaboration, commitment and personal experience. Each team member is also asked to highlight his or her strengths and areas for improvement.

Before the meeting, everyone is asked to get their thoughts together by filling out a questionnaire on Notion. This helps us stay on track with the main topics. The manager does the same, based on these key points. In this questionnaire, there’s also a part dedicated to the feedback to the manager covering things that are working well and that they would like to see continue, and points that could be improved to enhance better collaboration within the team.

During the meeting, the priority is given to the person being reviewed to ensure they’ve exposed everything they wanted to. Based on what they prepared, they explains their self-review in detail to the participants. Benevolence, openness and transparency are key factors for this meeting. It's important that everyone feels at ease at this meeting, and that everyone is understanding. We expect transparency and respect from all participants.

At the end of the meeting, the team member always have the opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification if anything is unclear. It's also a suitable moment to discuss his or her expectations regarding their development at Merchery.

These feedback sessions also ensure that no-one stays in a position that doesn't suit them for too long, or settles for what they have, leading to frustration, stagnation, and a lack of personal growth. Instead, they empower individuals to progress and grow better within the company, encouraging them to challenge themselves further, evolve more rapidly, and communicate anything that may arise.“

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Is there place for continuous and informal feedbacks too?

”To maintain this feedback culture, we also encourage informal moments for feedbacks. This can take the forms of 1-to-1 within a team or informal talks with me, Sim and Ben.

Recently, I also introduced the HR walks every now and then. Concretely, we leave the company for a little stroll or a coffee and we just chit-chat about everything. It doesn’t have to be work related. The person gets to decide what he/she wants to share. I’ve noticed that those moments are a good way to strengthen the bound with the team member in a more informal way.

Finally, to enable continuous improvement at Merchery - I've set up a survey system. For the moment, we only have one for onboarding asking the newcomers how they found their onboarding, what could have been done better, etc. I've noticed that people sometimes dare to say more through surveys. So I think it's a good additional way of getting feedback.”

Conclusion

So there you have it - our approach to feedback and continuous improvement at Merchery. We're all about keeping the lines of communication wide open and making sure everyone's voice is heard. Because at the end of the day, it's not just about growing as a company, but about growing together as a team.

Thank you Annab for taking the time to sharing your vision of feedbacks. If you want to know more about this subject, don’t hesitate to reach out to her [email protected]

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