Feedback

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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 and like to do the same for those who want it. But few can take this raw naked feedback without being defensive so you need to tailor the feedback session for the occasion. 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. This is feedback the Ove way:

  • The invitation is sent minumum 2 weeks in advance so we can prepare
  • We have booked a room for 1 hour but timebox our session for 50 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 create a safe space here. Remember to especially remind on this at the session.
  • 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 to lead by example and inspire others. Ideally one-on-one with a focus especially on your own gaps and weaknesses. Reserve 30 minutes, not more or less. If the person also wants (pulls) feedback make it 60 minutes. The best feedback sessions are when the other person requests it – a pull approach is better than a push approach but sometimes you really need to push it, as people in general are scared of feedback and builds up a feedback debt that can be overwhelming when it comes over them one day.

Someone said it is written in the books that feedback should be one negative and many positive things to bring up. I say the other way around. The positive things come often during the days when we pass on small tokens of appreciation but the negative ones is often hard to give in a public unsafe environment. How i want my feedback is to start with all the negative stuff and then round off with one (1) positive thing. This last thing is often that you remember the most and you feel more pleased.

Beware of the Goretex person though. She declines all your invites for feedback at first and finally in the room F2F her body language tells it all. She will defend herself whatever you say. When this happens, ask if we should postpone the feedback until she is open for it.

And always remember the feedback is between you two. Never tell you managers. Team feedback is another thing i will bring up in another post.

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