A framework to give constructive feedback to your tech team. 💊
Feedback is the breakfast of champions — Ken Blanchard
In 2017, I was working in i-surance as CTO and had a project to work on with my tech team: the migration of a business line to a new framework.
The final result wasn’t what was expected, and the project was a complete failure because of my communication issues with the team.
What happened exactly?
I didn't know how to give them feedback in the right way, and I made some mistakes:
I wasn't concrete or clear about why we were doing that task (I affected their motivation).
I didn't give them freedom or autonomy.
I didn't celebrate their milestones and only looked at what they had to improve.
But it wasn't the worst.
I shared my critiques in public — at team meetings, and I couldn't wait to say what I felt at that moment.
What do you think was the team's satisfaction with this project?
I was killing any motivation from the team, unintentionally, just by not being aware of the level of my interpersonal skills.
After realizing the low results, I had to take action. So I focused on building my effective communication skills and took feedback and active listening courses.
I relied on mentors to put into practice what I was learning and regularly reviewed the results and progress with the CEO as part of my biannual performance review.
Since then, giving feedback has been a skill I haven't stopped putting into practice, and it is undoubtedly the secret to continuous improvement.
When you become a manager, you have to understand how to deliver the message properly and turn feedback into actionable next steps.
It's actually something you can use to your advantage.
However, It's not easy to do it when you don't have any proper training, practice, or even a framework you can follow, taking the risk of falling into two very common mistakes:
❌ Giving feedback so soft and indirect that your collaborator doesn't even recognize that he/she is receiving feedback and ignore it.
❌ Or otherwise, being so direct to the point that your employee takes a defensive position.
Over the years and after going through different tech teams and personalities, I have created my own framework for giving feedback and communicating a hard message properly; a recipe you can put into practice today with your team:
1. Ask for permission
Start by asking permission from the other person.
«Do you have a couple of minutes? I have some ideas to improve the process»
«I want to tell you something about the performance of the meeting, can we talk?»
These type of questions will anticipate to your collaborator's brain that there is feedback to come and, thus, create a moment of acceptance and autonomy.
2. Implement the SBI framework model:
[𝗦] Situation: Define when and where the situation happened. Be as specific as possible.
[𝗕] Behavior: Describe how that behavior occurred objectively and specifically. Keep to the facts, and don't insert opinions or judgments.
[𝗜] Impact: Show the impact of the person's behavior on you, your team, and the organization.
3. End with a question
«What do you think about it?»
«I consider we should do this, but what do you think?»
Closing with a bouncing question will turn the situation into a joint problem-solving moment where your collaborator also has the chance to share her opinion and decision.
It will create commitment on her part rather than compliance.
Managers also have room for improvement.
Those who know how to give proper feedback also ask for it regularly.
As a manager, you also have things to improve, so I recommend you to ask for constant feedback from your team members. — It will help you set up a better continuous improvement process and achieve higher performance.
Did you know that within Ignite Mentoring Program, we dive deep into communication, conflict resolution, and how to give feedback?
If you are about to transition into tech leadership roles or are a first-time manager, I encourage you to look at everything you can achieve and develop by joining the program.
That’s all for now
I hope this framework could help you level up your skills for giving feedback and make it useful, effective and more productive.
What is your opinion? What is your experience? Do you use any specific framework for giving feedback?
📚 Free resources to grow as a great Engineering Lead.
📄 SBI Framework + Examples
Get some examples to implement the SBI Framework correctly by hitting my last Linkedin Post.
🔗 Read the post • 2 min.
📙 Book recommendation: Radical Candor by Kim Scott
Radical Candor™ is caring personally while challenging directly. At its core, Radical Candor is guidance and feedback that’s both kind and clear, specific and sincere.
🔍 IT Burnout Index by Yerbo
Get your personal burnout risk with a free, science-based assessment developed by our partners of Yerbo.
🔗 Take the test • 3 min.
Thank you for reading, hope you have a wonderful weekend.