Sophia Johnson, Feedback Labs | March 10, 2023
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover and gain control of their future.The International Rescue Committee’s local field office in Atlanta, Georgia creates opportunities for refugees and immigrants to integrate and thrive in Georgia communities.
As the IRC in Atlanta creates opportunities, it is imperative for the organization to share power with clients and be responsive to their needs. The IRC in Atlanta created the Client Voices Council (CVC) to do just that. CVCs are multilingual and multicultural groups where people can discuss shared experiences about coming to the United States, IRC resettlement, engage in dialogue around opportunities, and address their concerns. The CVC is a chance for clients to provide feedback, which then demonstrates that their opinions are truly valued.
The IRC in Atlanta engages in other feedback practices to ensure they are listening to clients’ needs, including strategic action planning, in-depth interviews, focus groups, and surveys. During the LabStorm, the IRC hoped to gather ideas about how to develop feedback loops that account for language and cultural differences and improve their current feedback processes. Three key themes came out of the LabStorm discussion:
Low-cost and high-impact strategies
The IRC serves many people of different cultures and backgrounds. Participants in the LabStorm proposed using social media to develop a low-cost yet high-impact strategy for closing feedback loops. Through the use of social media, the IRC in Atlanta could reach clients in unique and modern ways. This solution provides a platform for clients of all backgrounds to continue discussing how the IRC improvements impact them. While social media would have a large audience, tailoring it to a smaller percentage of clients could result in a low-cost but high-impact solution.
Balancing power in feedback
Clients must trust the IRC in Atlanta to meet their needs. Being transparent with clients will ensure a balance of power in the feedback process. Telling people where the IRC in Atlanta is starting and where they would like to go allows clients to understand the vision they are working towards. Anonymously utilizing the community could also level the power balance. Holding anonymous focus groups with peers may make people feel more at ease and ensure a balance of power. Asynchronous storytelling, where some clients tell a story while others write down their understanding of the story, is another way to reinforce an equal and balanced power dynamic. This method compares how a peer interprets feedback with how the organization interprets feedback.
Improving Exit Surveys
The IRC in Atlanta is currently evaluating two exit survey models (both of which have been indicated by the CVC to have value, though with differing priorities) to understand their clients’ needs and improve their practices. In the first exit survey model, a caseworker will ask the exit survey questions. In the second model, support staff (not the caseworker) will ask the exit survey questions. LabStorm participants gravitated toward the second model and suggested having a peer conduct the exit survey. This relinquishes the limitations of engaging with caseworkers, provides a space for clients to be more honest in their responses, builds community, and creates an environment that accepts and wants feedback.
As the Labstorm came to a close, the IRC in Atlanta acknowledged the benefits of social enterprises, peer support, and expanding transparency as key takeaways in progressing toward their feedback practices.
Learn More About LabStorms
LabStorms are collaborative problem-solving sessions designed to help organizations tackle feedback-related challenges or share what’s working well in their practice.
Presenters leave the experience with honest, actionable feedback and suggestions to improve their feedback processes and tools.
To learn more about participating in a virtual LabStorm, please visit feedbacklabs.org/labstorms.