On an internal mailing list my colleague David Pattinson recently described a feedback approach he’d used on a project where everyone on the team went into a room and they took turns giving direct feedback to each person.
Since we were finishing the project that we’ve been working on for the past few months, Christian, Dermot and I decided to give it a try last week.
One thing to note is that this feedback wasn’t linked to any performance review, it was just between the 3 of us to allow us to find ways that we can be more effective on projects that we work on in the future.
Much like David I found this approach to feedback to be the most useful that I’ve seen in nearly 4 years working at ThoughtWorks.
We took it in turns to receive feedback from the other two guys and each person first explained what they wanted the feedback to focus on.
I’ve participated in face to face feedback before but what I liked better about this approach was that someone could make an observation about something that you’d done and then that became a discussion point between the three of us.
In general it seems to promote a more conversational style of feedback than often seems to happen when it’s just one on one.
I think it was really good being able to get two opinions on each behaviour as people often have different takes on the same situation. Taking both viewpoints together along with your own seemed to make it easier to narrow in on the behaviour and see how it could be improved.
When giving feedback it was useful to have someone else doing so at the same time as it helped remind me about things that I’d forgotten about.
I still need to improve the way I give and receive feedback - Pat Kua details a series of tips for extracting behaviours from the actual feedback that people give and has several other posts on the topic. This is the best resource that I’ve come across but I’d be interested in knowing of any others.
The key thing that I’ve noticed when giving feedback is to only point out your observation and the impact it had on you rather than making assumptions about why the person might have done that - you’re nearly always wrong!
Overall though I found the group feedback approach to be useful and it’s something I’ll look to encourage on projects I work on in the future although I’m unsure how well it would scale in a larger team.
Photo taken from AmyZZZ1’s Flickr stream under the Creative Commons licence.