A feedback session is a time for you to share your impressions: of the progress of the project, of yourself, and of your relationships with other team members. Above all, feedback time is when you can talk about any fears you may have about how things are going. You can also offer ideas to use – as a team – to try to solve possible problems or deal with bugs that might come up, and to improve the development process. This is also the time to talk about what you don't know and want to learn. One pomodoro of this kind of feedback can become extremely educational and effective.
It's not easy to give constructive feedback. Often you have to be brave to give feedback that helps the team improve. Here’s some advice that will help you give effective feedback.
- Share your impressions. Above all, try to voice your fears. Since our fears are what generate our behaviors, they are relevant at a process level.
- Don’t try to interpret the thoughts or behaviors of others. Otherwise the feedback pomodoros will turn into group therapy. That’s not our job! If you’re about to say something like: "You always do that because..." Stop! Don’t fall into that trap.
- Be objective about the team's problems. When you communicate with the team, base what you say on the facts, as far as possible. A feedback session is not the time for the blame game (blaming others or yourself). If anything, it's the time to identify objective problems and opportunities for improvement.
Now that we've established how to give good feedback, there’s one more question: when to give feedback. For our teams at XPLabs we currently have at least two feedback sessions a day: one in the morning to start off the day and one in the evening to wrap things up before going home. Typically a feedback session lasts for one pomodoro, sometimes more. Morning feedback is particular important to us here at XPLabs.
At first, it's not easy for anyone to give feedback. We're not used to doing it, and it seems like a useless waste of time. Remember that the objective in giving feedback isn’t to make friends, but to work more effectively.