This page is a summary. If you want to read more, including lots of tips on how to give & get better feedback, and ways to practice with it, there is a whole section in the Culture & People Wiki 👇

Feedback: what & why?

Feedback enables growth; personal growth, team growth, and collective growth. Feedback is essential for the ‘learn’ part of the build-measure-learn cycle.

Regular constructive feedback on your performance is also an important part of a happy work environment.

People have a blind spot when it comes to how they are perceived by others and how their behavior might come across. At the same time people are great at projecting their own inner world onto others and using mental shortcuts such as assumptions and bias about other's behaviors. Feedback is a mechanism to fill in these blind spots and discuss these assumptions, making it an incredible difficult thing to do. It is a skill that needs practice, and the more often you do it the easier it becomes.

Getting it right

Feedback provides crucial information (together with other sources) for two very important questions: Am I working on the right thing? Am I working on the thing the right way?

Feedback enables growth; personal growth, team growth, and collective growth. Feedback is essential to support people in their growth.

The word 'support' is very important here: feedback is always meant to help someone grow, not to put someone down. This does not mean you can only support the person if you give them praise, but it does mean that it is important to think about how someone can improve when you give negative feedback.

Feedback can range from specific feedback on a relatively small task, such as a code review for a ticket, to something much bigger, such as a part of an action plan for an underperforming colleague.

Feedback is a shared responsibility of everyone

From practicing Holacracy, we know everyone has both the ability and responsibility to sense tensions from their roles and process them through the pathways provided. Likewise, regarding feedback, everyone has the same ability and responsibility to sense and process tensions with colleagues in an appropriate way.

Just as it is up to you to proactively solve your tensions, it is also up to you to process individual feedback. Because we know this is difficult, there are roles (such as the Feedback Booster in the People & Culture circle or other roles that can be found in GlassFrog) that can support you in how to approach processing and giving feedback. In the end we have a shared responsibility as colleagues to provide each other with the feedback we need to keep moving forward.

In other words: we expect everyone to give feedback when requested by a colleague, to regularly seek feedback for yourself, and to process any interpersonal tensions you have with a colleague.

Who is going to give me feedback?

In many traditional organizations, feedback is mostly done by the manager or team lead, although peer-to-peer feedback is often encouraged and concepts such as 360 feedback have become quite popular. In our organization we don't have managers, so who's gonna give you feedback?

There's only one possible answer, and that is: your colleagues! And when you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. They are the people you work with on a daily basis and are likely to be familiar with your work and well-suited to provide you with feedback.

Each circle has their own lightweight feedback process to create space and structure for feedback within the circle. New circle? Or need help with refining your circle’s feedback process? The Feedback Booster role can help.

The value of feedback from other individuals is determined by their credibility (do you trust their expertise, do you trust their intent to support you, do they have a good view on your performance) and their 'power' over you (which in our organization manifests in different way than in more traditional organizations), i.e. what are the consequences if you choose to ignore their feedback?

It is up to you to choose colleagues who you like to request feedback from. Aside from some formal processes (such as compensation change request or contract extension) there are few mandatory requirements. When you are not sure, start with your Circle Lead (since they assign people to roles they should have an idea of how people are performing within those roles) and colleagues whose opinion you value.

How to give constructive feedback?

This is a summary. Read the extended version here:

Feedback needs to be

  • Timely
  • Specific
  • Actionable