Configuring & Managing Conversations

Contents

Enabling Conversations

Enable conversations for your organization by going to:

Admin → Program Management → Conversations → Settings

conversation_settings.png

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 anytime conversation is 28 days from launch (as determined by the conversation template). This means the conversation will display in the participants' "Current" conversations list for 28 days, then move to their "Past" conversations list:

current___past_conversations.png

Configuring Anytime Conversations

Step 1: Enter a conversation name

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. 

Note: The conversation title will be visible to all participants.

anytime_-_step_1.png

  • 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") beside a ticked checkbox. If the "Confirm Meeting" button was clicked by accident, the participant can simply untick the box and the confirmation message will 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 reports 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 are configured so that only managers can initiate the conversation, 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

Questions can be optional or mandatory. They can also be cloned by clicking the double-screen icon to the right of the question:


mandatory___clone.png

  • Paragraph: Open text.
    Note: Paragraph answers can be configured to have a hard word limit that is less than the default 10,000-character limit.

  • Scale: 1-2 through 1-25.

  • Star Rating: Up to 5 stars.
    Note: Historically, the rating only went up to 4 stars. Reporting for conversations completed before the rating change will not be impacted and still have a maximum of 4 stars. However, to avoid confusion when comparing historical and current reports, the maximum rating will now be indicated (i.e. "# out of 4 stars" or "# out of 5 stars").

  • Multi-select: Up to 25 options.

Step 6: Deploy conversation

anytime_-_step_6.png

The default number of days that participants have to complete a conversation is 28 days, but this can be changed. The minimum is 1 day and the maximum is 300 days.

Toggle deployment on and "Save". If the conversation template has not been deployed it will not be available to users. 

Note: If deployment is toggled off while the conversations using that template are in progress, all related conversation data, including responses, will be lost. This applies to the data in the Conversations module as well as 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 description is a great opportunity to give participants some context around the conversation as well as to provide links to any relevant company resources. 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. 

Note: The conversation title will be visible to all participants.

scheduled_-_step_1.png

  • 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") beside a ticked checkbox. If the "Confirm Meeting" button was clicked by accident, the participant can simply untick the box and the confirmation message will 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. 

Note: Conversation names have a 64-character limit.

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 users).

Specific departments or groups: 

  • Departments: If a department contains sub-departments (i.e. the child department to a 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 as it pertains to user management, 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.

scheduled_-_step_2.4.png

  • 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' response 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:

scheduled_-_step_3.2.png

  • 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

Step 4: Permissions

Note: Template permissions can be changed upward (i.e. changed from "Can view" to "Can edit") while a conversation using the template is in progress. 

Permissions allow administrators and/or skip level managers to access the conversations that were created using the template. With the applicable permissions, skip level managers can view the conversations of managers who report to them. This helps 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 

scheduled_-_step_4.png

  • 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. 

Skip level managers can only view and/or edit confidential question responses for managers that report directly to them (one level down). If granted edit access, they will be able to edit manager responses before and after the responses have been shared by the manager. If granted view access to a conversation with an "Admin Review Period" for manager questions, they will not able to view responses until the review period is over and the manager shares. To learn more about how skip level managers can view and/or edit conversations, see this article

Administrators can view and/or edit conversations by going to:

Admin → Program Management → Conversations → Settings → Review Conversations

review_conversations.png

Administrators cannot access the responses of the other participant in their own conversation(s) before those responses are shared and they cannot view the responses to confidential questions in their conversations at all. For example, John is a Super Admin who has a conversation with his manager Jane. John will not be able to view his conversation with Jane via the Admin module until Jane has shared responses. Also, John will not be able to see Jane's responses to confidential questions at all.

Steps 5 & 6: Direct report & manager questions

Questions can be optional or mandatory. They can also be cloned by clicking the double-screen icon to the right of the question:


mandatory___clone.png

  • Paragraph: Open text.
    Note: Paragraph answers can be configured to have a hard word limit that is less than the default 10,000-character limit.

  • Scale: 1-2 through 1-25.

  • Star Rating: Up to 5 stars.
    Note: Historically, the rating only went up to 4 stars. Reporting for conversations completed before the rating change will not be impacted and still have a maximum of 4 stars. However, to avoid confusion when comparing historical and current reports, the maximum rating will now be indicated (i.e. "# out of 4 stars" or "# out of 5 stars").

  • Multi-select: Up to 25 options.

Step 7: Notifications

scheduled_-_step_7.png

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. If you set a conversation cycle to start on the same day, it will launch at the top of the following hour. However, the "Conversation start" notification (referenced in the section above) will not go out. Also, the end date cannot be the same as the start date.

scheduled_-_step_8.1.png

  • 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. 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).

answers_lock.png

Notes: You can update the cycle end date while a conversation cycle is in progress.

Additional lock options:

  • All answers lock when shared: Enabling this option will ensure that participants cannot edit their responses after they've shared them unless they submit a 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, confidential questions will always be excluded. 

scheduled_-_step_8.3.png

  • 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 changes during the review period. They'll just need to click the "Save Answers" button.

    The administrators will then be able to see those changes 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. 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 will 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 submit a request to edit. Super Admins can move the Submit Deadline and/or the Review Deadline to the future while the conversation cycle is in progress. The Admin Review Period can also be removed altogether. If a conversation has additional contributors, they will be able to share their responses with the manager before and during the Admin Review Period.

Note: When configuring the Admin Review Period options, confidential questions will always be excluded. 

Step 9: Conversation deployment

scheduled_deployment.png

Toggle deployment on and "Save". If the conversation template has not been deployed it will not be available to users when the start date arrives.

Note: If deployment is toggled off while the conversations using that template are in progress, all related conversation data, including responses, will be lost. This applies to the data in the Conversations module as well as in conversation reports.

Manager Change (Taking Ownership)

Note: 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, the new manager can take ownership of the conversation 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

take_ownership.png

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

Note: Depending on the configuration of system notifications, the new manager may be informed of the direct report's existing conversation. They can then take ownership as long as the previous manager didn't enter responses and the conversation is still active (i.e. the cycle hasn't ended).

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": 

request_to_edit_conversations.png

This action will add the participant's name to the list of requests that are sent via automated email to Super Admins and HR Admins (scope applied) 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

submit_request_to_edit.png

From there, you can select "Allow" (approve) or "Deny". If a request has been approved, the participant will receive an automated email informing them of the decision. They'll then have an additional 7 days to complete their part of the conversation. If the request is denied, no email will be sent given that an administrator will likely reach out to that participant directly and discuss the policy and/or reason.

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

conversation_edit_requests.png

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:

print.png 

Reporting

To view Conversation reports, go to:

Admin → Program Management → Reporting → Reports → Conversations

You'll be able to choose between 2 reports:

FAQs

What if a user is on leave when a scheduled conversation launches? 

If the scheduled conversation template is configured to include all employees (or, if the user meets the participant criteria), they will be included as a participant. 

When do scheduled conversation cycles launch? 

By default, scheduled conversation cycles launch at approximately 12 AM (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. You can find/change your organization's time zone by going to:

Admin → Platform Configuration → Operational Settings → Time Zone

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 11:59 PM (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 12 AM (your organization's time zone) the following day. You can find/change your organization's time zone by going to:

Admin → Platform Configuration → Operational Settings → Time Zone

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

New users are automatically added to a cycle if they meet the eligibility requirements configured in 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. The user's conversation will launch at the top of the next hour.

Note: 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?

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

Note: Paragraph answers can be configured to have a hard word limit that is less than 10,000 characters.  

How do I clone a template?

Super Admins can clone a template by going to:

Admin → Program management → Conversations → Settings → [Select template] → [Click the double-screen 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.