• J.P. Bowgen

Grow



According to a 2018 study conducted by The Predictive Index, the vast majority of employees enjoy receiving feedback. However, 44% of managers overlook this trend and give too little feedback, if any. A Zenger and Folkman study published in the Harvard Business Review also found that 92% of respondents agreed that negative feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance. StartU COO J.P. Bowgen sat down with Ryan Sydnor, Founder of Grow, to unpack these phenomena and learn how Grow is redefining the way we share feedback and grow together.


Growing as a founding team


Before meeting at Cornell Tech, Ryan Sydnor and Richard Hill, Co-Founders of Grow, had a combined 15 years of experience as technologists at feedback-forward companies like Epic and Bridgewater Associates – the Connecticut-based hedge fund renowned for its culture of hyper-transparency. Upon starting at Cornell, both were surprised when they mostly stopped getting feedback in graduate school.

“One thing that had always been impactful for me and my growth was feedback,” says Sydnor. “[When I pursued my MBA], I thought: here’s a class of people dedicated – financially invested – in getting better. There’s no downside to feedback. My compensation isn’t on the line. So why isn’t [feedback] happening?”

After realizing this, Ryan and Richard hacked together Grow over a break to begin building a feedback culture at Cornell Tech. Shortly after seeing success among their classmates, they launched Grow on the Slack app directory. In the first month, Grow’s traction began to take off.

“Slack featured us as a new and noteworthy app. And pretty much overnight we started seeing feedback exchanged in French, Japanese, and Spanish,” says Sydnor.


At this point, Ryan and Richard realized they were solving a universal problem. People around the world want feedback to grow, but it’s hard to get right. Grow makes feedback quick and easy.


Grow makes feedback for you


Grow is making feedback about better individual and team performance, rather than a tool for employers to determine compensation.



According to a 2018 study conducted by The Predictive Index, the vast majority of employees enjoy receiving feedback, leading to increased workforce engagement. However, 44% of managers overlook this trend and give too little feedback, if any. Even more fascinating is a Zenger and Folkman study published in the Harvard Business Review found that 92% of respondents agreed negative feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.


“Feedback is already hard,” says Sydnor.


But that’s where Grow comes in.

“There’s two main components of our value add in a relationship. In the moment, feedback is quicker and easier. And over time, we become a repository of all the feedback you’ve given and received.”

Beyond that, Grow’s user experience is highly unique.


“When you share feedback in Grow, you share an impression. For example, in this situation, you made me feel inspired, amazed, grateful, disappointed, confused,” says Sydnor. “And this was the impact – here’s what I think you may be able to do differently.”


Users clearly appreciate the seamlessness – 50% of Grow’s monthly active users are also weekly active users. And users give feedback on average in a minute and a half. But even with the promising early traction, Ryan and the Grow team recognize there’s more work to be done before they’re the go-to workplace feedback platform.


Growing on multiple collaboration software platforms


Today, Grow lives primarily on Slack, but has plans to expand to multiple collaboration software platforms. The strategy is highly deliberate – collect feedback where users spend the most time. Grow plans to integrate into every collaboration and communication platform so users don’t need to switch to a separate application just to share feedback. To date, they’ve already integrated with Slack, MS Teams, Google Calendar, and Microsoft Outlook.

“It’s really core to our strategy to meet people where they’re working, and communicating, and collaborating,” says Sydnor.


People want to share feedback, but often times do not know how. Now it’s as easy as 1-2-3.

Step one, sign into Slack. Step two, open the Grow app. Step three, choose from one of three Grow options: give feedback, request feedback, or recap an in-person conversation.

Further, because the forum for feedback is both easier and instantaneous, any perceived negative consequences of directness are often diminished, especially if feedback is not tied to monetary incentives. In other words, Grow provides a platform for candor that will more meaningfully contribute to its users’ professional development.


Over time, each user’s Grow Profile helps them understand their strengths and opportunities for improvement. Grow’s users have already begun taking their profiles with them from job to job so they can see long-term trends in their growth. These profiles help them find new roles, refine their skills, and helps them build more effective relationships and teams.


Helping the world grow, together


Lack of formal feedback permeates many workplaces, and that can be detrimental for company culture and morale. According to Qualtrics’ 2020 Global Employee Experience Trends survey, in workplaces that don’t provide feedback, only 42% of employees stated they were engaged.


More strikingly, employee engagement in general is low, with the United States and France being the most engaged countries globally, with 55% employee engagement, and Japan boasting only 35% employee engagement. Additionally, according to Gallup, this can be a sparkplug for positive business results, as well – high-quality feedback can increase profitability by 8.9% and reduce attrition by 14.9%.


In short, engagement on a global level is in short supply and that may be hurting businesses. This prompts a need for solutions like Grow to make a difference in the workplace.


But how?


Well, according to the same Qualtrics survey, it comes down to three key factors:

Regularly ask for feedback, and take action from it. Having feedback programs will meaningfully improve engagement. Workplaces with feedback programs showed 59% engagement, as opposed to 42% in workplaces without those programs.


Listen to employees more in times of change. Employees want to feel heard, especially when things are in flux.


Invest in career development, especially for your managers. Globally, 18% of employees state they intend to stay with a company for 1 year or less. The top reason for why employees choose to stay? The company providing opportunities for learning and development.

Especially as many of us transition to remote environments, these three considerations will be paramount for success. And as we continue to decentralize physically, it may just be Grow that helps us deliver on them.


And as an added bonus, Grow partners with Eden Projects to plant real trees on behalf of their users as a reward for growing together!



Let’s grow together


Want to try Grow with your team? Get started with Grow for free in under 1-minute at getgrow.io.


Interested in investing? Grow is currently raising a seed round! Contact Ryan at ryan@getgrow.io.

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