Home Articles Newsletter

Thoughts on giving feedback

Thoughts on giving feedback

May 19, 2020

A good, blameless feedback culture is essential for working together efficiently as it forms healthy relationships, fuels personal and professional growth and aligns us with common norms. Feedback is one of the cornerstones of company culture.

All that said I’ve found that giving good feedback is quite problematic for most of the people (me included!). There’s a social stigma to giving so-called constructive feedback (see, even the name is somewhat of a euphemism), we feel we’re expected to be nice to each other and surely telling someone they were wrong is not nice. We also tend to be way too simple and not specific when giving praise - no, a simple ‘well done’ is usually not considered as useful feedback.

Let me share with you a few key points about giving useful feedback. I promise it’s all easy and trivial, you just need to consciously practice it.

The how

One of the most important things is getting buy-in for providing feedback. That gives back some of the control to the recipient and helps in having a more open mindset compared to unsolicited feedback. Simply ask if the other party is open to talk about the certain topics. Give some context so they can decide. E.g. “May I share some thoughts about the daily standup we had today?” Be objective and be specific. These support each other, generalization tends to lead to giving feedback on perceived character traits which is a huge anti-pattern (“You always commit bad code."). There are a few feedback models out there, what worked the best for me is the SBI (Situation - Behavior - Impact) model. This helps in giving enough context and specificity and being objective. An example: “During the standup today you didn’t mention you were blocked in your work and by this we missed our chance to deploy today, resulting in a delay in delivery.”

The when

Finally, giving good feedback is as much about forming the habit as skills. Make sure you practice it, I guarantee you can find good occasions almost each day if you look closely.

✨ Newsletter ✨

A hand-curated newsletter for leaders and managers in tech.

Ideal for busy people such as Tech Leads, Engineering Managers, VPs of Engineering, CTOs and more.

No ads, ever.

    I won't send you spam - pinky swear! Unsubscribe at any time. ❤️