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From the VentureSquad: How Tech Teams Can Give Better Feedback
Better Team Feedback

Whether we’re working on our own or part of a team, we make difficult decisions as we try to overcome daily challenges, achieve our goals, and set ourselves up for success in the future. So what keeps us going?

Fresh coffee in the morning and lunch breaks help, but what gets us through each day and helps us tackle these challenges is the people around us. We’re all part of various groups, such as project teams, independent departments, and entire companies.

“For me, there’s nothing more motivating than feeling like I’m a part of something larger and working with my peers to build new things. But building, motivating, and streamlining these teams is a complex process -- one that’s never fully finished. And keeping that optimizing process running smoothly depends in large part on one thing: feedback.”

- Magdalena Gołza, Product Owner

Understanding the Importance of Team Feedback

We count on the people in our lives to challenge us in positive ways. For example, my Scrum teams broaden my horizons. My team leaders give me practical advice, help me assess situations from an analytical perspective, and, most of all, offer feedback that’s meant to improve my performance rather than judge it.

Handled properly, feedback is an invitation to reflect on a challenging project, an approach to your work, or a team dynamic. We provide feedback so that others know how we perceive what they’re doing, what impact their work is having, and what it means for the larger team.

When people receive constructive criticism, it makes them feel valued and supported. It can be difficult to give feedback because we might be afraid of hurting other people’s feelings. Despite this, it’s still important to give people the information they need to improve at what they do, especially on work as critical as our clients’ projects.

How to Give Constructive Feedback On Your Team

Ultimately, all feedback should help people continue down a current promising path or help them find a better one. Accordingly, there are two main types of feedback: positive (appreciative) and negative (corrective).

Both kinds of feedback should be based on trust, confidence, and good faith. If you’re preparing to give someone on your team feedback, whether it’s appreciative or corrective, consider these best practices:

  • Disclose what the conversation will be about and ask if/when the other person is ready to talk with you
  • Focus on facts and refer to specifics
  • Talk about behaviors, not the person’s character
  • Talk 1-on-1, in a place where both sides feel comfortable
  • Explore sharing feedback broadly across your team or organization, if everyone feels comfortable doing it
  • Ask about feelings/opinions after hearing your feedback

Our Approach to Feedback at VentureDevs

At VentureDevs, we regularly host professional development workshops for our internal teams on topics ranging from hard technical skills to softer interpersonal topics. These workshops have changed how we approach feedback and now help us identify and vocalize opportunities to improve our workflows and more effectively complete client projects.

In these workshops, we focused on the SBI model. The SBI model mitigates anxiety for whoever delivers feedback while making feedback easier to accept for whoever receives it. Let’s take a closer look:

SBI Feedback

Let’s see how this might look for our primary kinds of feedback.

SBI Feedback VentureDevs

Once you’ve presented your feedback, give the person you’re speaking with time to process it. Make sure you give them the chance to address how your feedback makes them feel and what ways you can both move forward as a team based on what you discuss.

However you decide to deliver feedback, remember to do it with patience and humility. Your goal is to help the receiving party improve, whether in their individual work or as a member of your organization. At VentureDevs, we’ve used these methods to shape our company culture, streamline our approach to software development, and do our best work for our clients.

Hope this has been helpful for you and that it will inspire you to share a feedback culture within your organization!