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As an Agile coach, you must live as you learn and actively seek feedback. Deriving from the world of sports, I’m used to tough feedback. During the time I played football, I loved the half-time break and the praise or scolding I could get. With this rough and immediate feedback from the coach, I often played a better second half. To support one-to-one feedback session, I often use a cheat sheet distributed with the invite, which both parties can use as the agenda, like a feedback agreement:

  • We have booked a room for 1 hour but timebox our session for 40 minutes.
  • We come prepared to the meeting with the feedback we want to give each other, ideally as written bullets. Try to make them a bit uncomfortable – those are the best. Here an example you can copy:
    • Start/Improvement: Giving feedback
    • Stop/Improvement: Being late.
    • Continue: Invite for lunch
  • For each bullet spend 5-10 minutes discussing.
  • The feedback we give to each other is constructive and aims at exploring how we both can grow.
  • Our intentions are positive, even if they are not expressed successfully at times.
  • We are aware that giving and receiving feedback are acts of vulnerability: feelings will arise during the conversation.
  • We allow these feelings, and we share them with each other to the best of our ability and with the intention of moving forward together.
  • What is said in the room, stays in the room.
  • We are aware that what we say and hear might not be interpreted and understood as we intended.
  • We seek clarity to ensure that both parties understand.
  • Assuming positive intentions, we stay curious and – especially when irritated – we speak up, ask and contribute to clarification.
  • We don’t bring any tools (computers, phones, documents etc) except for pen and paper.
  • Last on our one-on-one list: we shake hands and promise to commit to minimum one of the actions agreed to be done within a week.

As a leader, invite your team to a feedback session on yourself. Ideally one-on-one and focus especially on your gaps and weaknesses. Next time you can practice mutual feedback with the feedback agreement as a playbook. The best feedback sessions are when the other person requests it – a pull approach is better than a push approach.

This is a part of the book Psychological UNsafety from the trenches you can order or read more about here.

Ove Holmberg

Doubter, gaffer, author