The “January Talk,” introduced in 1974, is now the “Team Talk”: An important instrument for fostering constructive dialog between employees and supervisors, it has for decades been a key element in Bertelsmann’s corporate culture of partnership. In the future, it will be possible to organize and manage the “Team Talk” via peoplenet. A number of pilot companies will start this in May; others will follow in the years ahead.
In the past, it was known as the “January Talk” – from this year on, it is called the “Team Talk”: An important instrument for fostering constructive dialog between employees and supervisors, it has for decades been a key element in Bertelsmann’s corporate culture of partnership. The “January Talk” was first introduced at Group companies in 1974 to openly and constructively discuss potential for improvement with supervisors. However, it was not known by this traditional Bertelsmann name at all companies, and was not always held in the first month of the year. Now this participatory tool has been given a new name, but its aim remains the same: to give supervisors feedback about their leadership and collaboration in the team; to discuss the results openly and constructively; to derive measures from them; and thereby to improve leadership and teamwork.
The new name is accompanied by another important change: In future, the “Team Talk” can be conducted via the Talent Management module on peoplenet. A number of pilot companies will be able to start doing this in May; others will follow in the years ahead. This procedure is intended to make it easier for managers and employees to conduct a “Team Talk”, and will save a lot of time because it is no longer necessary to fill out and manually evaluate questionnaires on paper. In addition, the action plans can be documented in peoplenet to make it easier to see what has happened since the last meeting. Companies that don’t use the Talent Management Module in peoplenet yet can simply use the paper questionnaires as before.
Here are a few general tips on how to conduct the “Team Talk”:
- The employees in a team fill out the questionnaire.
- The staff meet without their supervisor to discuss the results and determine a team spokesperson.
- The team spokesperson presents the results, and the team discusses them with their supervisor.
- The results from evaluating the questionnaires show which subjects should be given priority in the team discussion. Individual questions should act as stimuli for discussion, but they need not be dealt with in a specific order.
- The staff and their supervisors jointly identify areas for improvement – and then decide on appropriate actions to take.
Specifics for paper questionnaires:
- The “Team Talk” questionnaires are available on BENET under Services/Performance Reviews/Team Talk, where you will find different versions for the respective divisions – in several languages.
- A selected team member evaluates the questionnaires. Under the above-mentioned BENET link there is an Excel tool for evaluating the feedback.
- Finally, a copy of the action plan is sent to the team members and the supervisor's boss.
Specifics for the peoplenet process:
- 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 measures 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.