3 Ways to Optimize Workplace Communication With Propeller

Article | Accountability Insights

by | Apr 24, 2019

How leaders can harness Propeller, the digital tool for teams, to manage projects with greater efficiency, streamline performance reviews, and promote honest feedback exchanges in the workplace.

The demographics of the American workforce are changing: millennials now comprise over 56% of the modern American labor force. One of the major shifts that has occurred as a result of this younger, more intergenerational workforce is a reimagining of workplace communication.

Baby Boomers are likely to have spent a significant portion of their careers engaging in face-to-face communication. The digital revolution and the advent of the internet has inevitably created new avenues for workplace communication — notably, via Microsoft Office and other email programs.

Today, we have entered the era of real-time workplace messaging via Google Hangouts, Slack, Glip, and more, complete with video conferencing and integration with common workflow management tools. While these advanced digital tools have undoubtedly improved communication efficiency, they are not designed to facilitate the effective exchange of feedback in the workplace.

Propeller, our new solutions-focused tool for teams, establishes a forum for positive, principled communication in three critical areas: project management, performance assessments, and feedback solicitation.

1. Streamlining Project Management for Efficiency and Effectiveness

To manage productivity on a given project, leaders across industries are increasingly adopting digital project management tools such as Slack, Stride, or Monday. These platforms are designed around one-on-one direct exchanges, focused on the granular interactions that propel daily work. While keeping tabs on individual tasks in a project workflow is important, these platforms are not designed to provide employees with a bigger-picture perspective.

On the homepage of Propeller’s Key Results module, users will see their team’s top three to five critical “must-deliver” results. Users will find a status indicator to communicate whether each goal is “On Track,” “At Risk,” or “Off Track,” accompanied by a video message in which a team leader may offer encouragement or summarize important progress updates.

In other tabs of the module, employees can participate in a Q&A forum about Key Results, view more detailed progress updates, record their personal level of psychological ownership for results, and pen a personal statement summarizing the ways in which their work directly impacts results.

While Slack, Glip, and Google Hangouts enable real-time messaging as the only real method by which to support effective project management, Propeller provides every team member with a “big picture” view of the way that their work can add value to the project and help achieve topline organizational results.

The high degree of visibility provided by Propeller’s Key Results module creates alignment around a team’s desired results, increasing clarity and generating focus. As a result, employees feel more connected to their daily work, which deepens employee engagement and contributes to an increased accountability for delivering on the goals of a project.

2. Providing a Powerful Platform for Performance Assessment

In thriving organizations, assessing individual employees’ performance is a critical culture management tactic. It is the responsibility of leaders to ensure every one of their direct reports is consistently performing at a level that drives desired results and contributes to a corporate culture of accountability.

Receiving and offering performance-focused feedback in the workplace has traditionally been done face-to-face, as the assessment may include sensitive feedback and areas for improvement. However, due to the highly decentralized nature of many modern workplaces, face-to-face conversations are not always possible. In response, leaders sometimes resort to offering performance commentary via email or in a shared document. Unfortunately, this kind of exchange is limiting — it requires that employees sift through their crowded inboxes and take note of the various feedback that they’ve received from different colleagues (potentially across different mediums). It is inefficient, impersonal, and can erect unnecessary boundaries between direct reports and superiors.

Popular digital tools like Monday and Glip can be rendered similarly ineffective for leaders assessing the performance of their direct reports, with important feedback lost in the clutter of direct chats and emojis. What’s more, this method comes with the same challenges of exchanging feedback via email: it is not centralized or easy to access retroactively.

When it comes to assessing employee performance, Propeller provides an appropriate forum for remote conversations. Propeller’s Feedback module creates a centralized, organized forum for leaders and their reports to exchange performance feedback. In the “Exchange” tab of the module, any employee can start a conversation with another member of the organization, no matter their seniority, thus increasing access to direct performance feedback for every employee. The module also archives employees’ individual feedback conversations in the “My Feedback” tab, eliminating the headache of thumbing through past conversations to find important feedback from superiors regarding performance. The engaging features of Propeller’s Feedback module facilitate effective performance-focused conversations that help create greater alignment across every level of the organization and improve performance in real time.

3. Empowering Employees to Seek Out Feedback from Colleagues

While most employees are prepared and willing to receive feedback from superiors and peers in the workplace, fewer know how to practice seeking feedback themselves. Proactively soliciting feedback indicates a high level of personal accountability at work — leaders who ask their reports for direct feedback can preempt performative problems, solve problems at speed, and propel the organization toward greater success.

Soliciting feedback in the workplace via Google Hangouts, Slack, or a comparable tool can be restrictive. Employees can either message each another one-on-one or create a group chat in which others may feel uncomfortable offering direct feedback for fear of judgement or backlash.

Propeller provides multiple avenues for soliciting employee feedback in the workplace and empowers every employee to make his or her voice heard. The Feedback module includes the “My Feedback” tab where either superiors or direct reports can start a one-on-one conversation, as well as the “Suggest” tab, which serves as an anonymous suggestion box for the leadership team to field recommendations on everything from workplace benefits to operational protocol. The anonymity provided by the “Suggest” tab empowers employees at all levels of the organization to share their opinions with leaders without fear of retribution.

The Tool for Improving Communication in the Workplace

No other tool on the market provides the structured support necessary to increase project management efficiency, facilitate meaningful discourse between leaders and direct reports, and enable leaders to solicit honest, direct feedback from employees across every level of their organization. As a whole, Propeller’s Feedback module helps every employee — from entry-level associates to decision-making executives — identify ways to improve performance and drive their team toward Key Results.

Learn more about how Propeller can position your organization for sustained success.