I feel really strong about feedback. I love it and I wish I had more of it in my life. Unfortunately, I have enough hands to count times I received a well-prepared feedback – both in my line of work and from conferences. So I want to bring up a few thoughts upon feedback.
I will not share theories or techniques, as there are many of them like Feedback Sandwich, BOOST, AID, Start/Stop/Continue, STAR, Ask-Tell-Ask, BRIDGE, GROW model. Well feel free to explore them with Google, but today I’d rather share my own findings and experiences from being the person on both sides 🙂
Take a break, take a breath, then talk
When do we think about giving feedback? When we are feeling strong emotions. We are angry or disappointed – we want to give negative feedback. We are amazed or happy – we want to give positive feedback. From my experience, it doesn’t work in both cases. When feedback is emotion-based it is really hard to come up with facts. It is hard to us to realize which actions made us feel angry, disappointed, amazed or happy – and without those actions, the person we will talk to will have no space for improvement. I found out that feedback is like revenge – better served cold. But remember to not wait too long!
During conferences I have a lot of emotions running through my head. So I found out, that it is better for me to wait until end of the conference with feedback. Then I sit down, get back to my notes and think about the presentations again. I found out that after some time I was able to say something nice about the presenations I did not like and even have some ideas for improvement. Moreover I had time to think why I liked some presentations – did the story appeal to me? Did I learn something? I am a speaker, I know many speakers and I know that this short amount of time spent with creating a good feedback note can make a great deal.
Sometimes it is not possible to deliver the feedback personally. But those are rare cases. We need to gather all the bravery we have and be honest with the person to which we deliver feedback. If we will talk directly to the person we open ourselves to the discussion. Moreover, we sign this feedback with our name and face – leaving the opportunity for follow up after the changes will be made.
One time I recieved feedback within company “Some people say, that…”. It was nightmare! I got back to my team, looked at them and thought to myself – Who? Him? Her? All of them? Why they fear to say this directly to me? How will I know that I improved?
I was also on the other side – in strong emotions I gave feedback about the conference, shamefully, on facebook instead of talking to the right person. Luckly enough this person reached out to me and we had an opportunity to talk – only thanks to that something good came out form it.
Don’t forget about positive feedback
Feedback is not the reaction to something bad happening. It is also underlining the good things others do. I see many people struggling with positive feedback. While gathering information they somehow skip the good parts. We really need to encourage each other – what better way to do it than through positive feedback? Moreover, it is very motivating for testers to hear amazing feedback from clients.
I’m a hard person to work with. There are times when I’m too focused on work, delivery and issues to take time and appreciate the amazing work of people around me. I’m working on that to say more often that I have high confidence in my coleagues work, that something they made saved the day or that I see the improvement they made over time.
Check whois problem it is
Sometimes the problem is with us. We expected something else and the person did not deliver it. But – he or she did not know about our expectations! This often happens during conferences, when attendees join the presentation without even taking a minute to read the abstract or do not have an open mind to hear the story. This same goes when we do not understand what is happening – why we do not like what the person is doing. We just do not like this person. This is also no place for the feedback!
In the line of work I meet many people with different values than mine. For example some folks will do their tasks very slow and thorough, while I prefer fast result. In those cases I might go out of my mind feeling like I need to give some kind of feedback. But it is not the way! If I did not make it clear, that they need to do it fast and I did not give them reason why it is so – I can only shove my emotions somewhere very, very deep.
Do not be afraid to share Your insight
The math is simple – when we do not share things we do not like, things will not change. It is a good idea to think about actions we do not like and already come prepared with alternative actions. Moreover, even with all those suggestions, I had today for You I think it is still better to give not-that-great feedback than sit still. You still may encounter a mature person that will start a conversation and something great might be born even out of a mistake. Let bravery, honesty and empathy be Your guides.