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Guidance on Feedback

On this page

Peer to Peer Training

We recorded a training on this subject which you can find here:

Types of Feedback

At GitLab, as part of the written performance feedback, we will be using 360 Feedback. Please go to the 360 Feedback page to read about that process.

Performance Feedback should also be given at the 1-1s and you can find details about that by going to the 1-1 page.

Additionally there is 365 feedback. Feedback should be given 365 days a year and largely it’s done verbally and directly; not escalated. More than just for feedback, these concepts are used in any difficult conversation.

Feedback can feel a little bit like this


Fear and Holding Back

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:

Elements of Getting it Right

Feedback Image

Radical Candor™

"Radical Candor™ just means Care Personally AND Challenge Directly. Why does something so simple feel radical?" Source. There is a video here from Kim Malone Scott titled Radical Candor-The Surprising Secret to being a good Boss which explains this crucial element of getting feedback right.

What comes first, Honesty or Trust?

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.

Preparing to Give Candid Feedback


Cross-Cultural Feedback Considerations

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:

Responding to Feedback

Hard Conversations

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:

Further Reading