When I first saw the 30 Days of Testing idea from Ministry of Testing, I was so pleased to see the focus on growing the community and changing the perception of testing from negative, pessimistic, and antagonistic to what many of us already embody in positivity and team engagement. This challenge to provide positive feedback was a steal from there and I am so happy I did.
At ThoughtWorks we talk about constructive feedback and confidence building feedback. In both cases it is important to keep the feedback information specific, issue focused, and based on personal observations. Time for some examples…
You may think someone else is really fun, but to make it impactful feedback, think about how that impacts their team and work. Maybe the feedback lurking in there is something like “I think it is really great when you share a fun anecdote you saw on the news. I notice how much more people open up and engage with their teammates and this has helped me connect with a couple teammates better and in turn made our product better.”
You may find that someone seems really distant because they leave the office right at 5pm rather than joining for after work events ever. Here it is important to tackle the remember your feedback needs to be centred around making the team more productive/effective and not in judging a teammates lifestyle choices. So maybe the feedback in this situation is something like “I have noticed I am cautious in approaching you when I have a question and I think that is a concern. One way I have built a more comfortable relationship with people is through the after work events, maybe we can schedule some other time to chat like a mid-morning coffee break? I really would like to get to know you better.” While this is still personal (and as a request can be denied), it is focused on the issue at hand which is comfort with approachability and not with their out of hours schedule.
I find there are so many articles and discussions on how to delivery hard feedback, people often only use “positive feedback” to “sandwich” their real feedback. This means positive feedback is often not delivered on it’s own and not valued as a priority in interaction. These reasons are why I love the rephrasing to “building confidence” as a focus on active, valuable, stand alone type of feedback.
Today I took advantage of the reminder this challenge provided, and gave some feedback to a developer on my team. We have been developing a new front end with ReactJS and are finally hitting a complexity level that is showing some of the problems with our original code structures. One of the developers more versed in ReactJS ran a lunch & learn today about Flux/Redux/etc as a path towards more maintainable code. Before I (with my Scrum Master cap on) could ask what the commitment would be to make this change, one of the developers asked what was the recommended path to introduction. This was the first time I had heard them speak up on the pragmatic delivery side of topics and I was really happy to see they were both excited to move forward, and also cautious about cost.
Do you see confidence building feedback as stand alone valuable? How often do you find time to provide this type of feedback? It is something I definitely need to keep as an active focus!