Friday Feedback Frenzies
The Friday Feedback Frenzies (cheesy name I know) is something I introduced on our project team about 6 weeks ago. The idea is that on a Friday afternoon every week (or every other week) you give and receive feedback from a couple of people on the project team. Each week you rotate the people that you do this with.
In his first post about feedback Pat Kua discussed the idea that we should invite feedback. I agree with him on this. I also would like to add that we should invite feedback from everyone on the project team. The trouble is – and perhaps this is not true across all cultures (project or otherwise) – I’ve not seen this happen.
Not giving and receiving feedback costs teams and relationships in all sorts of ways. As a developer, the pair programming dynamic is one of the most obvious places where the impact of not giving feedback is evident. In my experience people that are finding pairing with a team member difficult opt for silence, passive aggressiveness or just plain ol’ aggressiveness. I’m the first to admit that I’ve done all of these things on occasion. I’ve found that regularly giving and receiving feedback is a much healthier alternative.
So how is it going (in my opinion)?
Overall the frenzies have been going well. One person in our team commented at our last retro that he thought team communication had improved since they started.
We are still maturing the process of running the frenzies. Initially we began by exchanging feedback with the people that we had worked most closely with that week. This was ok but there was some hesitation in the group because people had to approach one another. We’ve since tried more of a speed dating style – everyone is given the names of two people that they will exchange feedback with the day before.
The effort and ceremony around participating in the frenzy is not supposed to be onerous – grab a meeting room or a bench in the kitchen area and have a quick chat one-on-one. I have tended to pre-prepare some dot points for each person that I am giving feedback to – some for strengthening confidence and some for improving effectiveness.
What’s going well?
- One thing I really like about receiving feedback regularly is that it can be incorporated very quickly. It’s not as useful to get feedback on how you could improve after the project as finished at annual review time.
- The feedback is more specific. How many times have you scratched your head trying to think of a good example to support your feedback? Feedback that covers a short window of a few days/weeks means that you can have conversations that include a lot of detail about specific events, like: ‘remember when we were pairing on story ABC and then….’.
What’s not going so well?
I think that there are two areas that we still need to work on in the near term:
- First up, the feedback process seems to take a long time. I think this is partly related to the fact that some people have worked on the project for a few months and have not previously exchanged feedback. I’ve not made attempts to curb the time because obviously there is a lot to cover. I think this will come down as the feedback cycle time decreases.
- We have tended to skip the feedback sessions if there are other meetings on. I don’t think this is a good pattern and is related to the fact that our frenzies seem to be at a less-than-frenzied pace.
So why frenzy?
The idea of having a regular event is to make giving and receiving feedback something that is part of normal team life. I understand that having such a ritual may be seen as contrived and as adding process overhead. This is not the intention and my hope is that the ‘scheduled’ aspect disappears entirely over time as the team just does it naturally. This idea is to promote the feedback culture.