Give Feedback Fearlessly

Aisha Blake

Room 408 • October 28 • 1:30 pm

Constructive feedback can be difficult to receive gracefully, but it can also be extremely hard to speak up when we notice our teammates struggling. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or make things awkward. Sometimes it just feels like too much work to organize our thoughts into a coherent message that could help someone who’s falling behind move forward. Many of us have a hard time deciding when it’s time to draw attention to a problem.

In this workshop, I’d like to briefly present my perspective on why peer-to-peer feedback is necessary for a healthy team dynamic. We’ll discuss a few different types of feedback, draw comparisons between situations where peer-to-peer feedback is appropriate versus those which should be escalated, introduce techniques for sharing feedback with team members, and talk through an example scenario.

In this scenario, we’ll consider a junior developer on a team who isn’t getting up to speed as fast or contributing as much as expected. (Let’s call him Michael.) Michael is relatively new to the team and still getting used to the processes involved. He’s struggling to keep up with his more senior peers and often taking significantly longer to complete tasks than he’s estimated, sometimes with code style issues. That code then requires discussion on how to fix it and additional development time to meet success criteria. How would you approach the situation?

From there, the remainder of the time will be spent in hands-on role-playing scenarios. Participants will be broken up into small groups and given several scenarios to work through. Each scenario will be packaged with discussion topics that help participants further explore the techniques and principles covered in the lecture portion of the session. I’ll move from group to group to facilitate discussion and provide feedback when it is warranted.