The use of faces for feedback is intended to tap into how people intuitively feel about a meeting.
It is intended to enable people to give feedback quickly and effortlessly without having to think about it too much, and thereby maximise responses and increase our understanding of the value they believe the meeting has to them and their work.
However, we are all different, and while many people respond better to things that seem intuitive to them, others prefer a more cerebral approach – they like to confirm they understand the implications, and they typically have a number of questions they wish to ask, for example the ones listed below. If you share in any of these questions, please click on them to open up a deeper explanation. You may also find the resources listed below helpful.
What does clicking a particular face actually mean?
Is satisfaction with a meeting a true indicator of its value?
Intuitively, we click a face which represents how we feel about a meeting. But what is that feeling based upon?
As professionals we have a job of work to do and a number of hours to do it in. Our satisfaction with meetings is therefore largely concerned with the extent to which they use those hours to add value to us and our current/future work (which may include supporting the wider team).
The faces therefore represent our satisfaction the the meeting (including the things that take place within and around it) has made the best use of our time in doing that – that it generated more value (as we see it) than the alternatives (such as simply carrying on, or collaborating in a different way). Seen in this light, the faces can represent the following feedback.
How satisfied are you that this meeting made the best use of your time?
This logic also applies to feedback on different aspects and contributions to the meeting, and will hopefully be easy to interpret from the explanations above. However, if you would like a more specific interpretation we have included slightly adjusted terms in the relevant sections on participation and qualities below.
How does this logic relate to participation feedback?
Meetings take up people’s time on the assumption that they are a better way to add value to the business than what those people would have been doing otherwise. This assumed increase in value is delivered either by enabling them to add greater value more quickly, either within the meeting, or as a result of it happening.
For some, the value might be what they deliver to other attendees (knowledge, insight, encouragement, …), for others the value may be what they receive (understanding, empowerment, confidence, …). However, that value will only be delivered if people act on it, and to act on it they need to recognise it as of value.
Therefore, whether the assumption will be fulfilled in practice, or not, is best determined by the people who will be required to realise that value in their work.
Please note, there is no attempt to measure the merit or potential of what happened here – it is not an evaluation of how ‘good’ the meeting or its organiser was – it is simply a pragmatic estimate of what will emerge as a result – and thereby a true indicator of its ultimate value in practice.
How does this logic relate to qualities feedback?
Some meetings are set up to enable participation feedback. The reason for this is because, statistically, people’s participation (for good or ill) is actually the biggest factor in meeting effectiveness. Improving meeting effectiveness is is only partly achievable by the organiser. Most of it depends on each of us, as participants, taking responsibility for doing what we can to maximise meeting value and efficiency for others – such as preparation, attentiveness, encouragement, constructive responses, ideas etc.
The participation feedback tab, if enabled, provides the means for each of us to understand the impact of our contributions (or non-contributions) on the value delivered to others in the meeting. Particularly helpful or valuable inputs can be recognised (and encouraged) by clicking a happy face under an attendees name. Conversely, behaviours which delay or detract from the value received by others at the meeting can be flagged with unhappy responses and clarification of why value was lost for them.
However, the person providing feedback is still focusing on their own response to what is happening – they are evaluating their reaction and not the person who ‘contributed’. For this purpose you can interpret the faces as follows:
How satisfied are you that x’s contributions/behaviours in and around the meeting made the best use of your time?
Are we qualified to judge meeting effectiveness?
Some meetings are set up to enable qualities feedback. Meeting effectiveness is heavily influenced by the quality of the following aspects of the meeting design and execution:
- Purpose – clarity of aims and approach – how well the goal defined for the meeting guides and empowers how it takes place
- Attendance – right people, right time, ready! – the extent to which the right people are present and prepared to play a full part in it
- Leadership – guidance and facilitation – the quality of the meeting leadership in building ownership through active participation
- Listening – involvement and understanding – the extent to which the process used helps everyone to properly listen to each other
- Creativity – generating ideas and insights – how the meeting solicits, stimulates and supports new ideas and different perspectives
- Efficiency – speed and quality of progress – the extent to which the meeting uses time efficiently to ensure progress and productivity
- Commitment – ownership of outcomes/actions – the use of techniques of clarity and consensus to build commitment which delivers
- Progress – achievement between meetings – properly examining the obstacles to progress and better engaging people in delivery
- Tools – making use of best-practice – use of meeting tools beyond presentation and debate to ensure better engagement and progress
- Facilities – rooms, technology and support – the extent to which facilities and resources help to create the right meeting environment
The qualities feedback tab, if enabled, provides the means to capture feedback on each of these things. This degree of granularity enables better analysis of trends and systemic influences in improving meeting effectiveness. It is best used at the end of a meeting to quickly rate each of these impacts in terms of their positive or negative impact on your perceived value. For this purpose you can interpret the faces as follows:
How satisfied are you that this aspect of the meeting helped make the best use of your time?
What happens to the feedback? Where is it used?
In practical terms, as participants in the meeting, absolutely and uniquely. The value of any meeting leaves the meeting in the heads and hearts of its participants. It does not matter in practice how technically excellent the event, or what decisions were made, the reality is that if people do not see the value, they will not enact it.
Please note, we are not judging the meeting organiser or participants, we are merely judging the effect of what took place in the meeting, and that effect is in us – we carry it forward, or we don’t.
So while we may not be experts in collaborative techniques, presentation skills, influencing styles, psychology or meeting technology, we are experts in how we feel we ourselves have changed, and what we are likely to do differently as a result.
And the reality is that, sometimes, it just happens that the cleverest of designs and the best of intentions fail. But when they do, the most important thing is to be aware that they have, and to set about adjusting the approach to bring about future success. And your feedback, which is essentially about yourself, is key to guiding that adjustment.
Can feedback I give be traced back to me?
Meeting feedback is immediately available to the organiser of the meeting and everybody they choose to share it with. Participation feedback is immediately available to the individual participant to whom it relates – it is not shared. Feedback is viewed via the Results tab.
The most common form of sharing of meeting feedback is with the attendees at the meeting, which helps to build a more collective ownership for the conduct of the meeting and recognises that no one person is solely responsible for what results. In fact, statistically, participant behaviours (preparation, punctuality, attitude, …) have a bigger impact on meeting effectiveness than the actual design of the meeting, and so responsibility for meeting effectiveness really is collective.
Meeting organisers are asked not to take meeting feedback personally. The email that they receive to alert them to feedback provides the following pointers on interpreting the results:
- Your feedback is NOT an evaluation of you! It is simply a reflection of ‘how people feel’ as a result of these interactions.
- ‘How people feel’ is a result of a number of factors, many of which may be outside of your control
- However, it is important for you to know ‘how they feel’ since this will affect what they do (or don’t do) as a result, and may affect your intended outcomes
- Furthermore, while you may not control all the factors which affect ‘how people feel’, you are probably well positioned to help facilitate their improvement
- For advice on how you might begin that improvement process, click here
Feedback is also collated together across multiple meetings in order to look for systemic trends at different levels of the business. In this way, the organisation is able to see where investments in training, systems, facilities, or policy changes may help their people to work better together and improve the overall culture.
Technically, all meeting feedback you provide through the Inspirometer system is anonymous. Nothing about your identity is attached to the data that your colleagues or your organisation receives. The Inspirometer system of course knows who you are (so that it can keep your own stats updated) but it does not divulge that data*. The data you provide is only defined by the meeting (and the agenda item) it is associated with, the time it was given, and any supporting comment that you provide.
However, in situations where your identity can be clearly associated with your feedback by other means (such as if you are the only other person in the meeting, or if you include something that gives a clue to your identity in your comment) then we would encourage you to be circumspect in terms of the potential implications this may have for you.
*Inspirometer will keep the identity of people providing responses entirely confidential except in serious cases where those responses clearly infringe an individual’s legal or civil liberties, such as cyber bullying, offensive abuse, or hate crimes.