Back in collage days, I learnt a lesson when my friend almost killed me (not literally though 🙂 ) when I responded to a question by saying “yes, you look fat”. Recently I noticed such a scenario in a team, well it’s nothing to do being fat 🙂 but fundamentally it was same, “Giving and taking feedback”.
I believe that feedback is a gift. It always helps us grow personally and professionally. Yet, most of us have a negative perception towards it. Most of us still believe age old saying “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Today’s demanding and challenging work environment calls for an imbibed culture of giving and receiving feedback. This aspect should be even more emphasized in agile teams. For example, lot of agile practices have an inbuilt framework to facilitate faster feedback such as with XP, we have CI, Pair programming, Peer reviews etc, with scrum we have retrospectives etc. Most of these feedback mechanisms are targeted at technical accepts and abstracted at team level.
In order to have hyper-productive teams, individuals should be comfortable to give feedback at an individual contribution level to acknowledge his/her achievements or to identify any growth areas.
Here are some points on giving and receiving feedback.
- Give your feedback as soon as possible: If you notice something done really well, don’t wait till a retrospective or some event to give a pat on back. If it is appropriate, drop an email, or post it in a bulletin board about the good work. At the same time, if you see something can be improved, or done at substandard level, let the person know ASAP.
- Balance your feedback: Always start your feedbacks with a positive note. It is important to mix both positives and growth areas.
- Be Constructive: The whole idea of giving feedback to help the other person to grow and not to criticize. So, always give your feedback in a constructive way. Be careful with the language you use. Replace words such as “but” and “however” with the word “and” when you string together your positive and negative feedback. When people hear the word “but” they immediately discount the part that came before it and only hear the negative comments.
- Listen: While receiving feedback, listen to the other person’s point of view. Perceptions are true at least for the ones who own it. So here it out without any justification or explanation.
- Reaction: If you don’t completely accept the feedback, thank the person and tell him how you are going to take that feedback. Be careful, it sometime do happen, that rather than accepting the feedback, we tend to denounce not only what is said but also those who say it.
Always remember, if someone is giving you feedback, it means they are interested in what you are doing and wants to help you to become better at it. Now, coming back to my collage days, if I had known point 3, I would have said “This dress suites you very well and I guess you look little big now” (not sure if it would have really helped) 🙂