Effective Programming

where agility meets computer science

Apr 10, 2020 - LB

Feedback is a Discovery Mechanism

It's not about you, it's about me

Do you find it hard to give feedback to your teammates? If so, why do you think that is? Is it because you’re not sure how they will react? Is it because you’re afraid of what it might do to your relationship? Would you prefer not to rock that boat? If so, then I’ve got an idea for you - a visualization, if you will. What if you changed your frame of mind to believe that instead of feedback, you were actually investigating … with intent to level set?

That’s right. What if you truly believed the motivation behind feedback was less about improving or making someone else more aware of something and instead, more about you learning about how your teammates think? What if you considered a feedback session as a learning experience for you and not directed at the other person at all? What if providing feedback is really a disguised opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the members of your team? Would that sort of perspective help motivate you to dig in a bit and initiate feedback?

Let’s step back for a moment. Can you remember the last time you were in a situation that you read incorrectly? Maybe you got upset or frustrated when somebody did or said something that didn’t make sense in the immediate context but which, after understanding the situation more completely, you realized you were in fact hasty, ill-informed and quite possibly, wrong? Now consider for a moment, the Prime Directive:

Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.

So, what if - when you see behavior that you don’t immediately understand or agree with it, you consider it a gift? What if you use those situations as forcing functions for you to reach out and engage in level setting conversations with your teammates? Not with intention to criticize or change but with an objective for you to learn, to have your eyes opened, to see what you missed.

At the end of the day, this approach is predicated on the idea of Humility, Trust, and Shared Understanding. Instead of thinking of feedback as an attempt to improve someone else, go in with the expectation that you got it wrong and in fact, it is your understanding that needs to be improved.

Feedback. It’s not about them, it’s about you.

What do you think? Give me some feedback if you have a chance!