Shorten Feedback Loops

Iterating in short cycles to get faster feedback is common in Agile. Not only on customer satisfaction, also on team performance. Retrospectives are common across Agile methods. Questions discussed are what went well, what didn't, what should we change.

What do I know about six months ago?

With individuals, we will often find yearly performance reviews. Sitting together with their manager, looking back how the last year went.

People fear these meetings. They don't know what cards the other's deck holds.

From the employees perspective the manager could disagree with a promotion they're hoping for. Will they tell me that I did something wrong, three months ago, on a rainy Tuesday, therefore not getting anything?

The same applies for the manager. Will I be talking with a frustrated employee, swallowing his anger for the last year, now hitting me with a thunderstorm of feelings?

Those situations suck. It helps nobody to swallow everything for a year and release it within an hour.

Seeing your kids paint a wall with a permanent marker, yelling at them in three weeks, they won't know what they did wrong, what it even was about.

You would also take timely action here.

Now the questions arises, how?

Adapt What We Already Know

We are already familiar with regular feedback cycles, regular feedback cycles are used to inspect and adapt how the last iteration went and what needs to change.

This you can also apply to individuals. You don't need a retro board for that, even if you can. Sit down together, in person or virtually, take your time and talk about what went well, what didn't, what needs to be improved.

How often depends on the context. Here we can learn from Agile: each party pulls for a meeting when needed.

Personally, I try to give feedback as timely as possible. How fast depends on the situation, never give feedback out of anger. Calm down first, then give feedback. That can be 10 minutes, an hour later, sometimes even a day or a week.

Make it effortless

Time is precious. I decided to dedicate a full hour every day to this. That makes two slots each day, that are potentially reserved for direct feedback. Forty possible one-on-one meetings every month.

Now the only thing people need is to book a spot.

Daniel Hauck

Daniel Hauck