Feedback Is a Gift
December 16, 2020
There’s an old adage that “feedback is a gift”. And I’m pretty sure that goes for feedback that is on public display too. People aren’t perfect, especially people like me who run small businesses. Small businesses have their ups and downs, and sometimes those ups can be way up and the downs can be way down. There was a time not too long ago when we had some real downs at Ballistic Arts. And as a result, we received some fairly negative feedback on the employee portal GlassDoor. You can go check it out yourself, it’s not great, but it’s been an eye-opener.
To those former team members who have gifted us with this feedback, I want to say, “thank you for your feedback”. I’m truly sorry that your experience at Ballistic Arts was so poor that you felt compelled to post this feedback. It’s disappointing to know we’ve left such a negative impact on you. The buck stops with me and we have been learning and growing from this experience.
Our continuous strive towards self-improvement
While leadership is not something that I was born with, I have continued to level up as Ballistic Arts have grown in different directions and has added many talented (yet different) team members with varying expectation levels. By taking various leadership courses, reading leadership books, and implementing real change in our business, we have continued to improve our culture. I believe that’s the best one can hope for – to continuously improve ourselves.
Because I don’t know who you are or when you were at Ballistic Arts, I can’t call you personally to apologize nor can I learn from you personally about how my leadership may have failed you.
All I have is this arena in which to offer my apologies. Hopefully, this post shows the great strides we’ve gone to in order to implement new improvements, which have been made, in part, due to your feedback.
Recent internal changes
When I assumed full ownership of Ballistic Arts a couple of years ago, I went through quite an adjusting phase (and still am). The beginning of the transition was extremely difficult, in fact it was the most challenging time of my life so far personally. Fortunately for myself, I’ve been blessed with people who love me, smart business owner friends and advisors who graciously offered their time and support, and certain team members at Ballistic Arts who believed enough in me to stay on through the transition.
What I learned was that I can’t change the past, I can’t control the future, and I certainly can’t control what other people think. What I can do is control how I think and what actions I can personally take from here. I’ve found it’s much easier to move forward with new systems and align the entire company to make meaningful, lasting change when leadership is 100% aligned.
Since having a new leadership structure, with a new COO and a new Office Manager, we have built complete buy-in at the leadership level. Over the last year, we have been successfully transitioning into a new business model that is much more sustainable and results-driven for our clients. We are a business now that addresses what really matters to our clients, not just what looks good. If you so cared to, please do check out our company update.
How we are implementing these changes
We are now system-oriented, vs having everything done on a reactionary/manual basis. We have implemented:
- The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), which has created regular meeting rhythms, re-set our core values, and created a new vision for the company with a transparent organizational structure and clear accountabilities;
- The Agile Methodology with two Scrum Masters on team. We plan our work in Sprints so our Project Managers can plan our team resources in a way that production team isn’t overwhelmed all the time. This has also allowed our production team members to give real-time feedback when processes and projects aren’t working;
- Weekly Info Sessions to talk about learnings we’ve garnered from books like “The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team“, and reinforcing the notion that conflict is okay once we have trust built in the team;
- Introduced what we call our company mindset, which includes concepts like “Integrity” so team members understand how to keep their word, and what to do when they can’t keep their word;
- Re-established our Core Values, complete with definitions and actions to live by;
- Conversations around Customer Success;
- Radical Candour as one of our core values where people are invited to speak directly and with compassion (We added a “u” in Candour, because we’re Canadian);
- A new HR system and financial management system;
- Personalized coaching for several team members;
- And have started to roll out an actual Performance Management Review process with weekly 1 to 1’s.
Initial signs of positive change
Clearly, we’re not perfect, but we are trying to do better one day at a time. We know this is going to take time and as we go, we will definitely have stumbles. Our goal is to build a much more stable foundation than the house of cards we had in the past. Our new culture is meant to have a strong enough team that will support one another other even when we fall short. There are clear signs this is happening now as we have valued team members approaching me directly to challenge when I have not lived a certain core value, or have been out of integrity on an issue. It’s great!
Overall, I would agree with you that we have had much to improve upon over the years. Like everyone in life, we’re learning as we go. We know we’re not done yet and that’s okay. We’ve learned that we can iterate our systems over time, vs waiting for everything to be right first. As our COO says “Perfection is the enemy of done”.
Setting goals for continuous improvement
Running any business while raising a young family just to put food on the table is tough in the best of times. It’s a bit more challenging in the midst of a global pandemic. However, I feel confident that we’re setting ourselves on the right foot here. We sent out an anonymous company-wide survey last quarter to get a sense of how our internal team was feeling about Ballistic Arts. Given the history of negative online feedback, we were bracing ourselves. We’re happy to report the result averaged out to be 7.8 out of 10. Our goal is to hit 8.6+ out of 10 by year’s end, so as you can see, we still have a ways to go.
Again, to all of you out there who gave us those 1-star reviews, I want to say thank you. Your feedback has been a gift. I’m really sorry that your time at Ballistic Arts was extremely negative. I would welcome a personal call with you should you feel motivated to do so. You have my personal cell phone. You can call me or text me anytime and we can set up a call. I look forward to hearing from you.