This summary is based in some papers I read, some discussion with other folks from different companies and personal experience. There’s no “black or white” in this are and it can be different based on various aspects, such as personal experience, culture, etc.
I really like the psychologic aspect of software craftsmanship, which is how different people with different lifestyles and backgrounds can help each other on the same goal of “get things done”.
This is a small summary of things I’ve learned, lived and hear from other folks during my whole life working in IT. Just thought that can be a good read and hope you folks enjoy to read it as much as I enjoyed to write up these points.
“Honesty is a very expensive gift”
The feedback step requires some emphasis in human aspects, such as being empathetic, transparent and care about and wanna see the best of the person — as always! Since we’re great people and feedback is one of our value, let’s start asking 2 questions based on the different aspects of the feedback loop actors:
What should I keep in mind …
If I’m giving a feedback …
That’s what the papers consider as “the active actor” or “The Sender“. It’s the person who’s giving a feedback and based on the way that message is passed it can pass some wrong idea or give a good understanding to the receptor, the person who’s hearing that.
It’s always good to ask yourself about your feedback. Keep in mind questions like “Am I giving it in a way that conveys my respect for this person and my desire to help them improve as a teammate/professional/person?“.
If you ask yourself about it and the answer is not yes, rethink about it, maybe you need to check if this is a valid point or the way you’re thinking in give it can’t be the best.
Specificity as much as you can
TL;DR; Be specific. Yeah, that’s the summary of this section!
be specific about your observations, the impact of the specified points affected you and/or other people, inside or outside your team. If this is not clear for you at the first moment you can do an easy exercise.
Situation >>> Observation >>> Impact on me/team/company
Organize your ideas in that way can help you with your main goal, which shows that you care about the person.
Be focused and supportive as a foundation
Everyone has growth areas and give a feedback like “You’re awesome, keep rocking“ is not a useful feedback without examples of why you’re saying that.
If I’m receiving a feedback …
That’s what the papers consider as “the passive actor” or “The Receptor“ and when you’re receiving a feedback you need to remind yourself of some points. And at that point you.
Regardless of the takeaways, make sure to thank them sincerely. Show appreciation for someone who cares about you is always a good tip.
When you’re receiving a feedback try to avoid explaining or justifying.
Listen to the message to understand it and ask for clarification if needed
Be an effective listener. Hear what the person has to say and be open for that, make sure your body language and/or facial expression is showing that you care about it — body language is about 70% of our communication and if we, by mistake, send a wrong message we can inhibit the person to give you feedback in the future — and make sure you’re paying attention of what’s happening at that moment!
Sometimes we receive a feedback, but the idea is not clear at the first moment we’re talking about it. If that’s the case, feel free to ask for clarification — an example of the attitude can help you to understand — but please don’t overwhelm the person who’s giving you feedback with a lot of questions.
Time to summarize and think about it
Don’t let the little voice in your brain that may be formulating your response distract you from understanding what is being said. Summarizing, is a useful tool to ensure you are hearing the feedback clearly.
That’s all for today
The idea of this post was to share some points about feedback. Of course, there’s a lot of different ways to give a feedback, but in summary, they share kinda the same idea: A feedback informal or formal should be the key of build trust in your team.
A lot of different teams and/or companies have different ways to encourage that, such as coffee + walk, meetings, fast feedback or even weekly team feedback (which is what some teams at Facebook and Google are doing, removing retrospectives from the team ceremony list — interesting point actually). Which one is the best?
The best way to give and receive feedback is the way that works for your team. Empathy is the key 🔑