My Not-So-Secret Secrets to Management Success: Feedback

Of course, I know and use all the favorite feedback phrases (“My door is always open”, “Let’s have regular one on ones”, etc.)  These are all good, but everybody is busy, so sometimes these happen, and sometimes they don’t. I am sure we have all had those pretty useless “Q: So how are things going?, A: Great!, Q: Anything to talk about?, A: Nope, can I get back to coding now?” sessions (Well, I hope I am not the only one… that would make me look bad). Even so, we should still have an open door, or chair for those if us that don’t have a door.  I always ending up thinking, though, that there must be something more.

One thing I try to do at every opportunity is to give immediate feedback for a job well done. “Great idea”, “Awesome debugging foo”, etc. When you see an interesting tweet post or email, take the minute to let that person know you appreciated that post. Try it, not just within your organization, but with anyone you interact with. Give the praise publicly, so people can share when good things happen. Without this, I found that people end up eventually feeling “Well… nobody cares about me doing this, so I might as well stop”… and then they do. So sad, so avoidable.

I am also trying to give negative feedback as early as possible. Now, I know it’s never fun or comfortable and, thankfully, I haven’t really had to do that a lot in my career. I think we all agree that feedback should be constructive, working towards fixing the problem. There may be situations where that is not possible, at which point the best that can be done is to find a mutually beneficial resolution (uncomfortable situation I am sure).

So how does it work? Excellent, everybody holds hands and sings kumbaya for most of the day (Well… don’t tell my boss). But, seriously, my team continues to amaze me with great results, unique ideas and a willingness to go the extra mile or two.

Read the other parts of the series here:

  1. Introduction
  2. Empowerment
  3. Goals
  4. Feedback
  5. Respect
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