Elke Frank


Why all this fuss about some stickers?

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An article by Dr. Elke Frank, Head of HR Development Deutsche Telekom AG.

Elke Frank

Dr. Elke Frank, Head of HR Development Deutsche Telekom AG.

Our goal as Deutsche Telekom is to become the leading European telco provider, which is the best place to perform and grow. But how can we establish a culture where our colleagues can develop themselves and their skills? We believe in creating an environment where personal feedback, appreciation and recognition are practiced at all time.

From a simple “Thank you” to “We need to talk” - feedback is a way to express recognition, appreciation, constructive criticism, disappointment, and much more. It is a helpful opportunity to motivate one another and a way to continuously keep learning. The Cambridge University Press wrote in 2014 that effective feedback has benefits for the giver, the receiver and the wider organization.

Employees want to receive more feedback

Numerous studies show that feedback in many companies is still limited to the annual appraisal interview. However, almost 40 percent of German employees would like to receive more feedback on their achievements, and the trend is increasing, especially with the "Generation Y. Giving immediate feedback is gaining in importance in the modern world of work: "The fast, immediate form of feedback, as we are accustomed to from postings in social networks, is taken up in the so-called micro or instant feedback systems. Certainly, those impulses cannot replace regular feedback discussions. Nonetheless, they are important because continuous, forward-looking feedback will not only provide a source of reflection and appreciation, but also strengthen one’s overall performance.

Badges for giving feedback

We at Deutsche Telekom developed a feedback system called Badges, which is a new way of giving positive feedback and appreciation, independent of hierarchy levels. Every employee can hand out badges via an online portal to one another, with only one a few clicks, just like our CEO Tim Höttges did. There are 8 badges to choose from like “Cool Collaboration” or “Inspiring Innovation”. The badges will be visible on the person’s online profile inside the company. If for example somebody gives a very interesting presentation, their colleagues can send them a badge to show their appreciation. As a result, giving and receiving feedback will happen instinctively and therefore, an environment will be created where giving feedback is part of the culture.

At first glance saying “Thank you“ by giving a feedback badge to someone may seem like just handing out a sticker, but at second glance, it is an important step to change one’s mindset to help making feedback not just be an empty phrase – but a part of our culture.


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