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Doctolib Engineering

The art of giving and receiving feedback 💌

segolenealquier profile image Ségolène Alquier ・3 min read

A few weeks ago @doctolib we had a great workshop about giving and receiving feedback.

We shared a lot of tips that I had never thought of and wanted to share them with you! 🤓


First thing first: what is a GOOD feedback?

A feedback is a return of experience from another person on yourself that helps you grow

💡 It has to be either:

  • positive or
  • constructive: give the receiver insights into improving

How do you usually give or receive feedback as a developer?

  • 👯 With your peers:
    • via code reviews, peer-programming...
  • 👔 With your manager:
    • during 1:1 sessions, code reviews...
  • 🎨 With your product owner or designer:
    • during planning poker estimation, when working on a ticket, when delivering a feature...
  • 🤝 With your client(s) or user(s):
    • through user interviews, A/B testing...

Why is it important to foster a feedback culture as a company?

Implementing a feedback culture will:

  • 🌱 allow people to improve and grow
  • 🤲 reinforce trust
  • 💪 boost motivation

💡 Plus it's a virtuous circle: you get feedback, you get better, you feel more motivated, you give feedback to others...


How to give good feedback? 📤

1 - 🙌 Be prepared!

  • Know what you will talk about and how you will illustrate your feedback

2 - ✨ Create the right context: time and environment

  • For constructive feedbacks: prefer 1:1 sessions
  • For positive feedbacks: spontaneous or public feedbacks are a good option if the person is comfortable with
  • Make sure you are available: present and listening
  • Make sure your interlocutor is physically and emotionally ready
  • Find a calm place

3 - 📊 Be factual!

  • Support your feedback with concrete examples and figures, not only with your feelings
  • Praise efforts and not just results

4 - 🧐 Don't be judgemental

  • Don't judge directly but talk about perception: by using the first person 'I'. You could for instance use it seems to me that... rather than you are this way...

5 - 📋 Come up with concrete actions or solutions

  • Make sure you give clear next steps for the person to improve
  • But don't enforce them: it's way better if you can define them together

6 - 🗣 C-O-M-M-U-N-I-C-A-T-E

  • Ask how the other person feels after receiving your feedback
  • Make sure he/she understands and agrees on the actions
  • Understand how the person works and what's the best way for them to receive feedback
  • Don't make assumptions: if you assume what the other people are thinking, you’ll never get their truth but only your version of it... which leads to misunderstandings! Better ask the other person how they feel

7 - 📆 And there you go again

  • Make it a habit in order to demystify the process
  • If you have a regular dedicated time, you won't apprehend a 1:1 as a potential fearful encounter

On that topic, another Doctoliber wrote this fun article How to ruin a 1:1, in which he lists the worst things you can do to sabotage a 1:1 😈.


How to get the most out of the feedback you receive? 📥

Receiving feedback is not only hearing it without being mad or hurt. It also means being able to build on it, find meaningful actions and ask for advice.

1 - 👂 Practice active listening

  • Avoid interrupting your interlocutor

2 - 💬 Take the point

  • Make sure you understood, rephrase if necessary
  • But don't feel obligated to say something back!

3 - 🙏 Thank the person

  • For having the courage to give you feedback!
  • Remember it can be uncomfortable on both sides...

4 - 📝 Keep the feedback

  • Write it down or just keep it in mind, so you can go back to it when necessary

5 - 🏃 Don't avoid feedback

  • Be proactive: don't hesitate to ask for feedback
  • Suggest having regular 1:1 sessions when necessary

💡 If you don't feel comfortable with a feedback you received:

  • don't hesitate to reschedule until you're prepared
  • change the scenery: go grab a coffee, go for a walk...

I hope you enjoyed this article 🥳.

I am particularly interested in the topic of Code Reviews and giving / receiving feedback is definitely key in that process!

If you're interested too, I wrote an article about it:

Also, feel free to reach out to me if you want to add anything on that topic or have tips! I'd love to hear about them 🙌

Discussion

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shannannon profile image
Shannon🦖

This is so good, thank you for sharing. I agree with some of the comment below, that this really supports a more remote lifestyle. It's been easy to take feedback as just pure criticism when you can't see facial expressions. Creating an environment where people are able to properly give feedback but also accept is so important when you can't just catch up around the water cooler!

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

This is especially important in circumstances where everyone is remote, which is likely still the default these days in general due to the pandemic.

It's less obvious how to read the situation or understand the different contexts of different individuals.

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segolenealquier profile image
Ségolène Alquier Author

I didn't think of that but it's very true! I started a new job during lockdown and I'm soooo glad it's in a company where they take feedback very seriously 🙌. Remote definitely makes it harder...

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greggomatic profile image
Greg Thomas

This is a great walkthrough on providing feedback.