I had a bunch of anxieties; I needed to know if they were well-founded or if I was worrying about things that were largely in my own head.
– Daniel Burka, Google Ventures Design Partner
If you’re a small team, operating at a breakneck pace, what can you do to formalize a process of rapid but substantive personal feedback?
If you’re Google Ventures, in place of a more formal performance review, you throw an “Anxiety Party.”
An Anxiety Party is a ritual that the design team at Google Ventures pioneered in place of a typical performance review. Because the team was flat and each member operated with little day-to-day interaction with their colleagues, they found that reviewing one another’s performance would be moot. However, the team still needed a forum to air their personal worries and seek one another’s counsel. In response, they created an “Anxiety Party” where each team member could openly admit to a concern and seek feedback from their peers.
How to Throw an Anxiety Party
- Set aside an hour for your team to gather.
- Spend the first ten minutes writing down things you worry about related to a project or your performance, e.g. “I’m worried I’m not communicating enough with the team.” Write one concern per card or sheet of paper.
- Sort your own anxieties in order from most to least severe in terms of immediate concern.
- Ask each team member to share their most immediate concern with the group. Go around and around until all concerns have been shared.
- For each concern mentioned, ask the group to rank it. A zero would constitute, “It never even occurred to me that this was an issue,” to a five, “I strongly believe you need to improve in this area.”
- For any issues that scored a 3 or higher averaged across the group, brainstorm ways to overcome the concern. Set actionable goals, e.g. “ I will set up weekly ten minute check-ins with each group member so we stay better connected.”
- Repeat this process as needed. We recommend quarterly.