Start Stop Keep – Closing the Loop on Obstacles and Opportunities
Imagine a cartoon inspired by the famous workplace commentator Dilbert. It’s a cross section of an office wall, and in the centre is the wall, on the right is a suggestion box, and the on the left, behind the wall is a rubbish bin. The hole through the wall means that every employee suggestion goes into the suggestion box, through the hole in the wall and straight into the rubbish bin.
In this scenario, which is what many skeptical employees likely suspect is close to the truth, two of the three key ingredients of employee feedback are missing, the discussion of suggestions by leaders, and closing the loop, ensuring that employees know what has been discussed and decided. The collection of suggestions is there, but the other two parts are missing.
Employee feedback, or the Start Stop Keep tool is not new and has been around for decades if not centuries. Today many companies are trying to use technology to manage employee feedback, which is great, but the timeless principles remain the same.
1. Start Stop Keep
The first is 3 simple questions, I believe which is best done in person.
What should we start doing?
What should we stop doing?
What should we keep doing?
A leader, preferably from the leadership team would ask these questions regularly, dependant on the size of your business, and ideally on a weekly or monthly rhythm these would traverse back to the leadership team for discussion which leads us to…
2. Discuss all at Leadership Team Meeting
Once leaders have conducted the Start Stop Keep conversations, and these could be as little as one per week or month, these conversations are brought to the weekly or monthly leadership team meeting for discussion and most importantly decision. There can be only 3 responses.
a. We are doing that because xxx
b. We are not doing that because xxx
c. We are maybe going to do that at point (X) in the future and have recorded it for that
3. Close the Loop
This is where many organisations fail and make employees reject the entire feedback system. By not responding to the feedback you asked for, people think I don’t want to provide feedback any more, or perhaps not honest feedback.
Closing the loop on all obstacles and opportunities means having that employee know the leadership team’s decision. It’s much worse they don’t know rather than have a response they don’t like. This could take the form of a company wide newsletter or broadcast of the SSK decisions, or it could be a one-on-one meeting.
As always, your decision is how to make this best practice work best in your organisation. But whatever form it takes you absolutely must close the loop or by using the Start Stop Keep exercise you are likely doing more harm than good.