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Time for the ‘Team Talks’ in the Departments

'Team Talks' can now be conducted again at Bertelsmann companies worldwide. The annual 'Team Talk' is an important instrument for constructive dialog between employees and their managers. It has been a key element in our corporate culture of partnership over decades.

As of today, Bertelsmann will once again begin conducting annual 'Team Talks' worldwide. 'Team Talks' are an important instrument for constructive dialog between employees and their managers. It has been a key element in Bertelsmann's corporate culture of partnership over decades. The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we work together in many areas. Especially in these times, the talks can make a valuable contribution to staying in touch regarding important aspects of teamwork. The Talk itself can be carried out in digital or analog form. The peoplenet is available for the digital implementation. The questionnaire can be filled out in the platform and the results then be evaluated automatically. For the analog way, documents and further information are available on this BENET page.

From 'January Talk' to 'Team Talk'

The team talk has its origins in 1974, when the dialog between the supervisor and the team was known as the 'January talk'. The aim was to talk openly and constructively about areas for potential improvement in the Group' s companies. However, not all companies used the traditional Bertelsmann name 'January Talk' - and the talks weren't always held in the first month of a year. Which is why, a few years ago, the participatory instrument was given a new name, while its aim remained the same: to initiate a structured and open dialog between employees and their disciplinary and technical supervisors, to derive actions, and to review, at team level, the activities since the last employee survey. It also gives supervisors feedback on their behavior and helps them improve their work as managers.

The Talk is based on a short questionnaire that employees fill out in advance, either digitally on peoplenet or on a sheet of paper. It contains selected questions from the employee survey. The results serve as a reference for the later Talk and can serve as a stimulus for the discussions. It is important to note that participation in the team discussion is voluntary and anonymous, as feedback is only evaluated if there are five or more participants ('Rule of Five'). However, if all participating team members agree - as in the case of the employee survey - an evaluation can also be carried out with three responses ('Rule of Three'). The video embedded in this article provides explanatory details as well. 



How to Conduct a Team Talk:

  • The members of a team fill out the discussion sheet on peoplenet or on paper and name a team spokesperson.
  • If the questionnaire is filled out on peoplenet, the system automatically handles the evaluation of the answers.
  • If the questionnaire is filled out on paper, the team spokesperson does this using an Excel evaluation tool (available for download here).
  • As needed: The team spokesperson speaks to individual colleagues regarding topics, if any, that should be mentioned anonymously to the team and the supervisor.
  • The employees first meet without their supervisor and discuss the results.
  • The team spokesperson presents the results at a further meeting, which the supervisor also attends. The spokesperson moderates the discussion and gives examples from the team. The team then discusses the results with the supervisor.
  • The evaluation of the questions highlights the topics that should be given priority in the Team Talk. The individual questions are intended to stimulate the discussion, but do not have to be worked through schematically.
  • Together with their supervisor, employees consider where there is room for improvement, and then decide on and document appropriate actions.
  • Recommendation: At this point, the actions from the last employee survey can be taken up again in order to review their progress and adapt them if necessary.

Specifics of the Process when using peoplenet:

  • The supervisor uses peoplenet to send an invitation to their team, including the deadline for submitting the completed questionnaire.
  • The team members fill out the questionnaire on peoplenet. All the team members’ forms are collected here until the deadline for submissions.
  • Here too, the information remains anonymous, of course. This is ensured by the 'rule of five', which only produces a report once at least five team members have participated.
  • After the submission deadline, the report is made available to all team members and the supervisor on peoplenet.
  • Once the action plan has been drawn up, the actions are documented in peoplenet, and a copy of the action plan is sent to the supervisor’s boss. The supervisor also makes the action plan available to the team members.



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