Configuring & Managing Conversations

Contents

Enabling Conversations

You can enable conversations for your organization by going to:

Admin → Program Management → Conversations → Settings

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There are 2 types of Conversations:

  • Anytime Conversations
  • Scheduled Conversations

Anytime Conversations

Anytime Conversations allow managers and their direct reports to select a template and have a 1-on-1 at the time of their choosing. The default due date of an Anytime Conversation is 28 days from launch (as determined in Step 6: Deploy conversation of the anytime conversation template). This means the conversation will display in the participants' "Current" conversations list for 28 days, then move to their "Past" conversations list:

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Configuring Anytime Conversations

Step 1: Enter a conversation name

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  • Request employees to confirm they met:
    • Enabling this option will ensure that the conversation includes a "Confirm Meeting" button that either participant can click after sharing responses. If this option is enabled, the conversation will not be recognized as complete (in the Betterworks user interface or in conversation reports) until one of the participants has clicked the button. When the "Confirm Meeting" button is clicked, it turns into a confirmation message ("Your meeting is complete") preceded by a filled-in checkbox. If the "Confirm Meeting" button was clicked by accident, the participant can simply uncheck the box, and the confirmation message we revert back to its previous state as a "Confirm Meeting" button.  
  • Enable employees to create objectives from inside this conversation:
    • Enabling this option will ensure that participants can create objectives without leaving the conversation. This is ideal if you know that the associated conversation will result in action items. 
  • Only managers can initiate this template:
    • Enabling this option will ensure that only a manager can trigger the conversation from their end. Direct report(s) won't see that template in the drop-down menu when clicking the "Create" button in the Conversation module. If all of the anytime conversation templates have this option enabled (re: only managers can initiate), direct reports won't see the "Create" button in their Conversation module at all. 

Note: Conversation names have a 64-character limit. 

Step 2: Decide on a format

Conversations can be one-directional or bi-directional. One-directional conversations are great for self-reflection. 

Step 3: Permissions

  • No access:
    • Conversations are not accessible.
  • Can view: 
    • Conversation responses for the manager and direct report will be visible once shared.
  • Can edit:
    • Managers' responses can be viewed and edited prior to being shared.
    • Direct reports' responses can be viewed prior to being shared, but not edited. 

Steps 4 & 5: Direct report & manager questions

  • Paragraph: Open text
  • Scale: From 1-2 up to 1-7
  • Start Rating: Up to 4 stars
  • Multi-select: Up to 15 options 

Step 6: Deploy conversation

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Set the number of days that participants will have to complete the conversation. The default is 28 days, but this can be changed. The minimum number of days is 1. Toggle deployment on and "Save".

Notes:

  • If the conversation template has not been deployed it will not be available to users. 
  • If a conversation template is "undeployed" while conversations using that template are in progress, all information (including responses) will be lost. The conversation data will no longer be available in the Conversations module or in conversation reports.

Scheduled Conversations

Allows administrators to create a template and launch it to their entire organization or a predefined list to take place within a certain timeframe.

Configuring Scheduled Conversations

Step 1: Name this conversation

The conversation name and description will be visible to all participants. The description is a great opportunity to give participants some context around the conversation as well as to provide links to any relevant company resources.

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  • Request employees to confirm they met:
    • Enabling this option will ensure that the conversation includes a "Confirm Meeting" button that either participant can click after sharing responses. If this option is enabled, the conversation will not be recognized as complete (in the Betterworks user interface or in conversation reports) until one of the participants has clicked the button. When the "Confirm Meeting" button is clicked, it turns into a confirmation message ("Your meeting is complete") preceded by a filled-in checkbox. If the "Confirm Meeting" button was clicked by accident, the participant can simply uncheck the box, and the confirmation message we revert back to its previous state as a "Confirm Meeting" button.  
  •  Enable employees to create objectives from inside this conversation:
    • Enabling this option will ensure that participants can create objectives without leaving the conversation. This is ideal if you know that the associated conversation will result in action items. 

Notes:

  • Conversation names have a 64-character limit.
  • Changes made to the name and/or description of a conversation template that has a cycle in progress will be applied immediately and pushed out to all participants. 

Step 2: Select participants

When it comes to conversations in your organization, you may have varying needs across departments and employees:

  • Each department may need to have separate conversations based on their objectives
  • Each manager may need to have a conversation with their director about their team
  • All new hires may need to have a career planning conversation with their manager

Include all employees:

  • This option will deploy the conversation to all employees in your organization's Betterworks instance including those who may be added to the platform while the cycle is in progress (i.e. new hires).

Specific departments or groups: 

  • Departments 
    • If a department contains sub-departments (i.e. "child department" to "parent department"), users in each of those sub-departments will be included in the conversation. For more information about departments as it pertains to user management, see this article.
  • Groups 
    • These are predefined by a Super Admin and based on attributes that users share (i.e. location). For more information about groups, see this article.
  • Custom participant list
    • Upload a CSV file. Feel free to use this simple template. Your file should only include the email addresses of the direct reports who will be participating. The Betterworks application will automatically pair these direct reports with their respective managers based on the reporting structure defined by user management.

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  • Allow managers to invite additional contributors (aka Conversations+)
    • This is a great option for organizations where project leads are common and need to provide input on a direct report's performance. 
    • Managers can invite up to 3 contributors to the conversation with their direct report. 
    • Contributors will complete the same set of questions as the manager. 
    • Direct reports will not know the identity of contributors unless "Allow contributors to view direct reports' responses" is also enabled. If that option is also enabled, the direct report will be informed via a note at the top of their conversation form (i.e. "After you share, [Contributor(s)] will be able to see your answers.").
    • Direct reports will not be able to view the contributors' responses.
    • The additional contributor option is not available for conversations where only the direct report provides responses.
  • Allow contributors to view other contributors' responses: 
    • Leaving this option blank will hide Contributor A's responses from Contributor B and vice versa which can help prevent the responses of one contributor from impacting others. 
    • Enabling this option will not only show Contributor A's responses to Contributor B and vice versa, but both contributors will be able to view the manager's responses.
  • Allow contributors to view direct reports' responses:
    • Leaving this option blank will hide the direct reports' responses from contributors.

Note: Administrators do not have the ability to add contributors.

Step 3: Decide on a format

Conversations can be one-directional or bi-directional. One-directional conversations are great for self-reflection. 

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  • Enable confidential questions:
    • The responses to these questions are only visible to Super Admins and HR Admins (scope applied), not to the other conversation participant. Confidential questions for managers can also be tied to calibration (if your organization is using that feature). 

Step 4: Permissions

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These permissions allow administrators and/or skip level managers to access the conversations that were created using the template. The skip level option allows managers to view the conversations of managers who report to them. This can help give leaders in an organization a better idea of:

  • What types of conversations are happening on the teams that they manage
  • Where they can better support the managers who report to them
  • How they can best steer the organization toward better performance 

Administrators will be able to view and/or edit conversations by going to:

Admin → Program Management → Conversations → Settings → Review Conversations

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Note: HR Admins cannot use the steps above to view the responses of the other participant in their own conversation(s) before those responses are shared. Or to view the responses to confidential questions in their conversations. The same cannot be said for Super Admins who can view the entirety of all conversations (including their own). You may consider not including Super Admins as participants in scheduled conversation cycles that they are monitoring. 

  • No access:
    • Conversations are not accessible.
  • Can view: 
    • Conversation responses for the managers and direct reports will be visible once shared.
  • Can edit:
    • Managers' responses can be viewed and edited prior to being shared.
    • Direct reports' responses can be viewed prior to being shared, but not edited. 

To learn more about how skip level managers can view and/or edit conversations, see this article

Notes:

  • If the "Admin Review Period" option (Step 8: Schedule conversation cycles) is enabled for the manager's questions, responses will not be visible to the skip level manager with "Can view" access until the review period is over and the manager shares their responses.
  • If "Can edit" permissions are applied and the "Admin Review Period" option is enabled, the skip level manager can view and edit responses even if they have not been shared by the manager.
  • Skip level managers can only view and/or edit confidential question responses in conversations for managers that report directly to them (one level down).

Steps 5 & 6: Direct report and manager questions

  • Paragraph: Open text
  • Scale: From 1-2 up to 1-7
  • Start Rating: Up to 4 stars
  • Multi-select: Up to 15 options 

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  • Clone:
    • You can clone the previous question by clicking the blue icon shown above.
  • Mandatory:
    • Make the question required.

Step 7: Notifications

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Note: System notifications must be enabled in order for conversation notifications to be sent out.

Step 8: Schedule conversation cycles

A cycle must be set during which the conversation will run. You cannot set a conversation to start on the current date. Also, the end date cannot be the same as the start date.

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  • Set the number of days unlocked questions will remain editable: 
    • This allows you to set a grace period where participants who miss the original deadline can still submit responses. 

Notes:

  • You can update the cycle end date while a conversation cycle is in progress.
  • You can end a grace period while a conversation cycle is in progress by calculating the # of days from the current date to the cycle end date, then entering that value in the grace period field and saving. 
  • Additional contributors can complete their responses during the grace period (unless the manager has already shared their responses).

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Additional lock options:

  • All answers lock when shared:
    • Enabling this option will ensure that participants cannot edit their responses after they've shared them without approval (i.e. request to edit).
  • Some answers lock on an earlier date:
    • Enabling this option will allow you to lock individual questions before others (i.e. setting direct report questions to lock before manager questions). 

Note: When configuring additional lock options for a conversation, confidential questions will always be excluded. 

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  • Additional Admin Review Period options:
    • This advanced option can help facilitate a more formal review process (i.e. a performance review cycle) and may not be needed for a recurring check-in or other, more frequent conversation types. 
    • Enabling this option replaces the "Share" button with a "Submit" button so that conversation participants can submit their responses for review. 
    • Participants who submit their responses by the Submit Deadline can still make edits during the review period. They should just make sure to click the "Save Answers" button. The administrators will then be able to see those edits from within the Admin module.
    • Participants who do not submit their responses by the Submit Deadline can still add responses during the Admin Review Period. They should just make sure to click the "Save Answers" button. However, those responses will not be visible to the administrators from within the Admin module. The administrators will need to generate a Conversation Answers Report to view the participant's late responses. For more information about administrator reports, see this article.
    • After the Review Deadline has passed, participants need to click the "Share" button by the cycle end date in order for the other participant in the conversation to see their responses.
    • Unless a grace period has been added, participants who do not click the "Share" button by the conversation cycle's end date will be locked out of the conversation and need to use the request to edit feature. 

Notes:

  • Confidential questions are not subject to the rules of the Admin Review Period.
  • Super Admins can edit the Submit Deadline and/or the Review Deadline while the conversation cycle is in progress as long as the dates being edited are in the future. The Admin Review Period can also be removed altogether the Submit Deadline and Review Deadline are in the future.

Step 9: Conversation deployment

Toggle deployment on and click the "Save" button at the top-right corner of the template.

Once the conversation has been completely set up, you can add future cycles. 

Notes:

  • If the conversation template has not been deployed it will not be available to users (even when the start date arrives). 
  • If a conversation template is "undeployed" while a conversation cycle using that template is in progress, all information (including responses) will be lost. The conversation data will no longer be available in the Conversations module or in conversation reports.

Manager Change (Taking Ownership)

Notes: In order for a new manager to take ownership of a scheduled conversation, the new reporting structure must be defined via user management

In some cases, a conversation participant may be assigned to a new manager during a scheduled conversation cycle. When this occurs, current conversations can be assumed by the new manager. The new manager can do this by going to: 

1. Conversations

2. Clicking on the direct report's name in the left-side panel

3. Opening the applicable conversation

4. Answering "Yes" to the ownership prompt

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Administrators cannot complete these steps on behalf of the new manager.

Note: A new manager can only take ownership if the previous manager did not share their responses. If those responses were saved, but not shared, the new manager will be able to share or edit them after taking ownership.

Requests to Edit: Submission, Approval & Denial

If a participant has missed the deadline to share their part of a conversation, they'll need to submit a request to edit by going to their Conversations module, selecting their conversation, and clicking the settings icon at the top-right corner of the conversation form. This will trigger the drop-down menu from which they can select "request to edit": 

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This action will add the participant's name to the list of requests that are sent via automated email to the organization's administrators at approximately 5pm (your organization's time zone). Clicking the "Manage Request(s)" button in the email will redirect you to:

Admin → Program Management → Conversations → Settings → Request to Edit

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From there, you can select "Allow" (approve) or "Deny". Once a request has been approved or denied, the participant will receive an automated email informing them of the decision. If approved, they'll have an additional 7 days to complete their part of the conversation.

However, if you'd prefer not to receive these notifications and will instead check the Request to Edit tab daily, you can disable the notifications by going to:

Admin → Program Management→ System Notifications → Conversation Edit Requests

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Export A Conversation

Administrators with Super Admin or HR Admin permissions (scope applied), can export a conversation from Betterworks by going to:

Admin → Program Management → Conversations → Settings → Review Conversations

Once you've located and opened the applicable conversation, click the print icon at the top-right corner of the conversation form:

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Reporting

To view Conversation reports, go to:

Admin → Program Management → Reporting → Reports → Conversations

You'll be able to choose between 2 reports:

Related Downloadable Resource(s)

Conversations Best Practices Quick Guide

FAQs

Where can I find/change my organization's time zone?

You can find/change your organization's timezone by going to:

Admin → Platform Configuration → Operational Settings → Time Zone

When do scheduled conversation cycles launch? 

By default, scheduled conversation cycles launch at approximately 12am (your organization's time zone) on the cycle start date. This means the conversation will be available in the participants' Conversations module from that point forward. 

If I have the Admin Review Period enabled, what time do the Submit Deadline and Review Deadline take effect?

The Submit Deadline and the Review Deadline are 11:59pm (your organization's time zone) of the date that you enter in the respective fields. This means the next phase of the scheduled conversation cycle begins at 12am (your organization's time zone) the following day. 

Can I add a participant(s) to a scheduled conversation cycle that is already in progress?

New hires are automatically added to a cycle if they fit the eligibility requirements set by the conversation template. However, if the participant list was determined by a CSV upload, a Super Admin will need to upload a new CSV that includes all existing participants as well as the new participant(s). If the participant list was determined by a department or group, the participant needs to be added to the applicable department or group. Their conversation will launch at the top of the next hour. Participants can only be added until the cycle end date (not during the grace period).

Are additional contributor responses included in conversation reports?

Yes. Additional contributor responses are included in the Conversation Answers Report. 

Can additional contributors respond via the Betterworks mobile app?

No. Not at this time. 

Does the conversation cycle's grace period apply to additional contributors?

Additional contributors must be invited by the manager before the cycle end date. Additional contributors can respond to questions through the end of the grace period. Our recommendation is for managers to invite additional contributors and encourage them to respond to questions before the cycle end date. This way, the manager has through the end of the grace period to complete and share their own responses.

Can I change the permissions of a conversation that is already in progress?

Yes. Conversation permissions can be changed at any time. 

If the skip level manager permissions on an Anytime Conversation template are changed, will it impact previous Conversations that used the template?

No. These permissions will only be applied to future conversations and those that are in progress.

Can a Conversation cycle be extended after deployment?

Yes, but only if the original date has not yet passed. 

Are there character limits for questions and answers?

Questions: 512 characters
Answers: 10,000 characters

How do I clone a template?

Administrators with Super Admin permissions can clone a template by going to:

Admin → Program management → Conversations → Settings → [Applicable template] → [Click the blue icon under the "Actions" column]

Note: Please be sure to review the template and change any necessary sections (i.e. template name) before saving it.

Are Anytime Conversations included on the Performance Snapshot detailed print view?

Yes. Anytime Conversations are included in the detailed print view. To learn more about the Performance Snapshot, see this article.