Behind the Team: Softening the Feedback with Loom
Feedback is a difficult but important part of collaboration across teams.
At Loom, they’ve implemented an impressive suite of tools for discussing feedback, team alignment, and goal management altogether.
Loom is a video messaging platform for work and team communications. Founded in 2015, the company now has 10 million users and more than 120,000 corporate customers. Personally, it’s one of our favorite pieces of software we use at Hugo.
In this interview with Anique Drumright, VP of Product at Loom, we gained insight into how coordination and alignment occur, along with some specifics on their meeting process and how using richer content formats has made her and the team more receptive to feedback.
In this issue you’ll learn:
- How video messaging increases a team’s capacity to receive feedback
- The specific product management processes that keep Loom aligned
- Perspectives on how to set up highly motivated teams
🎬 Feedback: Could You Repeat Yourself?
When it comes to product management, Anique points out there are always multiple perspectives when it comes to decision-making, so it’s essential to provide the tools and environment where everyone is heard:
“With Product specifically, there’s rarely a perfect answer. There’s always a tradeoff, and it’s always nuanced. So I think a strong Product organization has a healthy amount of dialogue back and forth. It’s not as if when I say something, the entire team agrees that’s the right perspective. We dialogue around it. And I think that’s really important. And of course, we use Loom to collaborate asynchronously and not lose any communication nuances over Slack.”
Using Loom for feedback is not only convenient for dialogue. It also allows people to absorb feedback better in many cases. Short videos give more room for nuance in terms of nonverbal communication, emotion, and tone of voice, which makes feedback less blunt and more human than a text-based alternative.
Anique also mentioned that using Loom gives her team the opportunity to give upward feedback without the feeling that they are contradicting management. Loom videos allow people to hear the feedback when they want rather than having to react immediately as they might in a synchronous meeting or conversation.
“You get to decide how many times you want to receive the feedback, and the tone of the feedback is so much better than what you would be typing.” The asynchronous nature of video means only relevant team members receive the feedback rather than using the meeting time for anything that wouldn’t be useful for the entire room.
Anique particularly appreciates reviewing the feedback she gets by video when it works for her schedule to watch and respond:
“This week I got tough feedback from one of my team members — not tough in the sense that it was critical but in the sense that it was intellectually challenging feedback that required me to focus and think about it. I watched the loom once and responded that I need to take time to think about it. The great part about Loom is that I can watch it more than once. If that feedback had been delivered in a meeting, no matter how much coaching you might have on receiving feedback, humans are humans, and in that moment you are in a conversation you respond to what you heard the first time, which in this case wasn’t the entire depth of what she had to say. Watching the loom a few times lets you put yourself in the state of mind to hear the feedback and process it.”
Another ongoing mechanism for product feedback is through a Slack channel.
Feedback on the channel can be from customers or customer service, but the team also provides their own product feedback. Since the entire company uses Loom regularly, the Slack feedback channel provides a continuous stream of information for product improvement.
🚀 Processes That Power Loom
The Product team impacts every part of Loom, which is rapidly growing. Using Loom for meeting pre-reads makes synchronous collaboration more effective and efficient. These are the regular meetings that keep Loom’s fully remote teams on track:
- Quarterly roadmap alignment: This happens both through meetings and asynchronous communication, allowing the entire company to align on OKRs and targets for each quarter.
- Support wrap-up: Provides an opportunity to review the product quality and feedback from the clients and the support team about how the product can be improved and streamlined from a support perspective.
- Bi-weekly Sales and Success wrap-up: Provides an opportunity for the Sales and Success team to share trends from their conversations,. and for the Product team to share roadmap updates.
- Monday team kickoff: Allows the team to align on their priorities for the week and also deepen their relationship with one another. Anique and her team have recently been going through the questions in the New York Times article, How to Fall in Love.
- Weekly leadership meeting: Alignment-focused sync where each executive follows up with a synopsis to share with their team.
- Weekly NPS review: Anique reviews the Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey results from the prior week, summarizes emerging themes, and records a Loom for the team with the key findings.
- Product workshops: Occurs on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In these sessions, the product team has informal “jam sessions” where product managers propose specific approaches to products and features and share their designs and ideas.
😊 Four Tips for Cross-Functional Alignment
Maintaining alignment in the product department requires a high level of cross-functional and internal team communication. Anique shared four practices that she finds to be crucial to her effectiveness as a product leader:
- Keep in mind the main function of the company is to be of service to the people using the product. When everyone keeps the customer in mind — the conversation centers around serving others.
- Listen actively and frequently to the extended team. If you’ve hired great people who are aligned with the goals, they all have valuable insight. Anique mentioned one of her favorite meetings was the support meeting because the people who are giving customer support have to listen to customers all day long. Listening allows her to hear the real problems, without getting defensive or needing to give her perspective.
- Know what matters most. “Have a clear perspective. And by that I mean, know what really matters to you. For example, in quarter one, I’m only looking for three things: signups, affiliation, and daily active usage,” says Anique.
- Do what you say you will do. It seems simple, but as everyone knows, it’s easier said than done.
The trust that Anique has in her team was clear throughout the interview. Product teams at companies both small and large have a lot to try out here, and with a new year, there’s no better time to experiment than now.
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