Feedback can come in the form of "praise" for things team members do well, and in the form of "tips" pertaining to improvement areas. At GitLab, we encourage both types of feedback on a regular basis!
A few ways in which feedback is provided at GitLab are:
Feedback on improvement areas can sometimes feel like this:
Giving feedback can be a scary process which makes it hard to do. This is because there are fears of damaging the relationship, being wrong, losing face or hurting the person. Holding back on providing feedback because you feel it isn't your place (if you are a peer) or believing it won't make a difference are also some reasons why we hold back.
The consequences of holding back can have a significant impact to GitLab's culture. Patrick Lencioni, in his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (2002) cites the following five consequences:
"Radical Candor™ just means Care Personally AND Challenge Directly. Why does something so simple feel radical?" Source. There is a video below from Kim Malone Scott titled Radical Candor-The Surprising Secret to being a good Boss which explains this crucial element of getting feedback right.
For many, it is more comfortable to give feedback to, and receive feedback from, those with whom you have already established trust. Somehow, the trust makes it easier to assume good intent and to be boldly honest with each other. Often, however, we need to provide feedback benefiting from trust before that trust has been earned.
It is inevitable that at some point difficult feedback will need to be given. This type of feedback is actually extremely valuable if delivered correctly. Another important factor is to consider the individual and be prepared for how they might react. You may receive one or a combination of the following responses:
The last point is what we want everyone to be able to do. The best way to ensure you deliver feedback is to be prepared. You can do this by asking yourself some questions beforehand. These will help you to balance heart and mind, such as:
The following suggestions, considerations, and models can be applied and used as a guidline when providing both positive feedback and feedback on improvement areas.
The Situation-Behavior-Impact (S-B-I) Model helps structure feedback in a manner that makes it easily understandable.
Situation - Define the when and where by anchoring in time and place.
Behavior - Describe the observable behavior and how it was applied.
Impact - Describe how the other person’s action affected you or others experiences and thinking.
GitLab has team members from many different cultures and backgrounds. Everyone responds to things differently. You may need to adapt your tone and style according to the individual and the relationship you have with them. Some things to think about are:
We recommend you review GitLab's Cross-Cultural Collaboration Guide!
Why it's important to document:
Where to document:
On 2020-06-08 we held three Live Learning sessions to cover how to deliver feedback effectively using the guidelines above. This recording is from the second session and includes content as well as a Q&A portion. The content in the video below follows along with this slide deck and meeting agenda. We also used Mentimeter during the sessions to ask the attendees questions. Team members can view the Mentimeter results.
Receiving feedback well is an important skill to have not just at work, but in life in general. Receiving constructive and even positive feedback can be difficult. Our brains want to protect us from any potential dangers, and receiving feedback can be perceived by the brain as a physical threat. We have outlined some guidelines and tips to help with this.
In an all-remote organization, Managers model a culture of feedback that promotes ongoing feedback that happens throughout the year. Feedback does not have to wait until performance evaluations, it can happen anytime and in real-time. Managers can develop their people through positive and constructive forms of feedback.
Skills and behavior of the modeling a culture of feedback manager competency:
On 2020-02-25 we held three Live Learning sessions to cover how to receive feedback effectively using the guidelines above. This recording is from the first session and includes content as well as a Q&A portion. The content follows along with this slide deck, and the Q&A follows along with this meeting agenda.