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3 Ways to Give Better Feedback

Kenneth Larsen
Engineering Manager & Ember Core Alumni
・1 min read

Giving feedback to your peers can be extremely difficult if you do not plan it right. Thankfully, there are a set of tools that can drastically improve those skills.

1: Use the proper format

"Your pull requests are really annoying to review!" is not feedback that is easy to accept or easy to act on. It is very confronting and blaming and thereby switches the focus away from solving the problem.

Instead, feedback should follow an observing formula:

Observation of behaviour + impact of the behaviour + question or request = actionable and specific feedback.

The formula turns the feedback from something blaming into: "Over the last three weeks, I've noticed that you have created large pull requests without any descriptions or instructions. This more than doubles the review time needed and has led to five production bugs. Can you help me understand why you prefer these large pull requests?"

2: Negative feedback should be given with a growth mindset

To ensure that people can use negative feedback, you must give it with a growth mindset. If the negative feedback does not have the goal of helping your colleague grow in that particular area, then it is not valuable feedback.

3: Do not deliver it as a script

It might seem like a good idea to write down the feedback and read it to your colleague, but it will often come off as ungenuine. Feedback is about being present and listening, not delivering a presentation.

With these three steps, you can easily take your feedback skills to the next level.


References

Huston, Therese; Let's Talk: Make Effective Feedback Your Superpower

Hogan, Lara; Resilient Management

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