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Serpico: Harnessing constructive criticism

Mis à jour : 14 mars 2019




Annual work-performance reviews don’t work. Not only is it difficult for managers to remember how each of their team has performed, the feedback generally arrives too late to have a positive impact. Serpico, by the Lux Future Lab-based firm ZZYZX Road, has a real-time, 360° solution to this demoralising ritual.

Nobody likes the annual assessment process. Although it is a necessary process, it is largely dysfunctional. Managers have to rack their brains to recall who worked on which project, and how well each individual performed several months ago. Employees then receive these comments during a short meeting, with limited time to offer feedback. Often negative remarks come as a demoralising surprise.


Collaborative feedback, including with clients


Ideally managers, colleagues, external partners and clients should be in constant dialogue with each other offering support and advice face to face or by email. Yet, not only is this time consuming, it can be an awkward process on a human level. Serpico is the way to transmit valuable constructive criticism efficiently in a collaborative fashion. Goals are set, and then holistic advice is given. In particular, it has the advantage of being open to feedback from clients, enabling firms to secure current relationships and find new clients.


Comments on clear targets


“Managers create a road-map for each employee on which the feedback will be based,” explained Guillaume Chatelain, the founder/CEO of ZZYZX Road.

“This might be on a day-to-day basis, or on whole projects”

Assessments are given through a score out of ten and written comments. Any number of stakeholders can contribute: departmental colleagues, staff from other parts of the business, partners, service providers, clients and more.


“This is real 360° assessment with feedback being given in all directions,” Guillaume said.

What makes this particularly valuable is that it is anonymous, allowing people to give frank assessments, but with senior managers able to monitor the process to ensure it remains professional. Each employee receives average scores and written assessments about their performance.

“The great value is that this information is delivered at the right time; when staff have the ability to respond to constructive criticism, for the benefit of themselves and the team,” explained sales manager Aurelien Mojak.

Moreover this feedback delivered frequently is more likely to be accurate. Traditional annual review scores are influenced unduly by recent performance, because memories fade about work carried out earlier in the year. Serpico avoids these problems by providing clear, widely sourced, recorded evidence of achievements.


Test phase


The company was founded a year ago, with development on Serpico having begun three years ago. For the moment this is a stand-alone web-based tool, and it is being tested in Luxembourg with a financial sector firm, a consultancy and a public administration. All bugs should be ironed out and functionality added by the autumn when the full sales drive will begin. They will sell subscriptions on a “software as a service” basis, charging organisations for the package and per user.


Hands on advice at Lux Future Lab


“Working with Lux Future Lab has been a huge benefit for us”
“I’m an engineer so have limited experience of the professional side of HR. Lux Future Lab have connected us with HR managers with whom we are now working closely,”

They have also had access to useful seminars on building partnerships and intellectual property. ZZYZX Road are receiving this support even before they have actually moved into the Lux Future Lab, which they will do in mid March. “We are also grateful that they understand our cash flow situation. They see our potential but understand that we have yet to start generating income, and they give us flexibility,” he added.

Luxembourg is the launch market for Serpico. It helps that it is easy to reach decision makers in this well-connected country. But after breaking through in Luxembourg, their ambitions are unlimited.


Written by Stephen Evans

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