How to improve feedback in your agile team

Our last post was about the signals that show that your agile adoption can be failing. This time we are going to focus on actions that can help us to deal whit those problems. One of the most important habits that we need to encourage in our team is feedback. Many times feedback already exists on the team but it doesn't have results that we expect or simply we don’t know how to express it.

Feedback can be perceived similarly to retrospectives, but what happens with feedback is that can be more constant or even don't need and specific ceremony to give it a place in our team. Feedback is the return of the information based on what we know (our team's behavior) looking for improvement when the person received it.

But sometimes feedback not is perceived as good in the team and some people can feel it as harmful and others take it as an opportunity for criticism. To give feedback and obtain the best results we need to coach our team from the right path to finally accept it and obtain the best of our team. Finally finding weak points help us to be better and effort to keep improving.

feedback statistics

So, here are some important points that will help you to give better feedback:

Have a point of reference/make a difference between what could be done and what happened:

How could you know if something is wrong if you don’t know what is good? Objectives, purposes, missions, goals, KPIs, users stories; all that kind of things are very important for the performance of your team. You can’t expect that your team makes what is necessary if they don't have clear what is the point of all their activities.

If you haven't created a purpose check why it is important, and how can achieve one.

The reason why you need to define a point of reference is that you need results to compare if the performance of your teams is going for the right path and if they are achieving the Definition of Done (DoD) of the sprint. If you have a well-defined backlog (check this tool for doing it with your remote team) and you compare what you actually achieve in contrast to what your team thought they could achieve you can find easier the problems and the feedback is going to be more focused on the points that weren’t achieved.

Complain is not feedback:

One of the most uncomfortable problems that exist with feedback is that some people think that is time to complain. Having a team member that just uses this time to remark the bad behavior of some member or complaining about the big work burden that they have, it is far from being healthy for your members. Be clear with the team or if it is necessary personally with the members (be careful of being kind, some people could think that is against them and they won't participate in the next feedback.)

The point is to have a safe environment where the members feel comfortable talking about the problems that they could be having without stepping on the complaining. That is why you need to focus your feedback to be on the right path. Remember that this time is more like us instead of you. That’s why we talk about constructive and positive feedback instead of positive and negative.

Positive and constructive feedback are necessary:

Positive and constructive feedback are necessary to achieve improvement and increase the engagement on the team. Create this safe environment where your team can speak and express why they are not giving their best can help you to find new ways to work. But to achieve this environment you need to express the good and bad things. But being careful, this is all about work, not is necessary to talk about the personal part of the members.

Constructive feedback: helps you to find those little mistakes and behaviors that are not letting your members work with freedom. To find what is delaying the deliveries and even for noticing it the groups are having trouble. Constructive feedback is like their name says: that helps for a useful purpose.

We need to have in mind that there is a limit on being kind and being soft if your members don't say the hard stuff (related to work obviously) the feedback is not taking you to anyway. They need to be capable to expose the mistakes without being tough.

Positive feedback: Just as there are people that can’t express the bad behaviors there are people that can't do it with the positive things. And the positive is very important too. This part can be more difficult so try to encourage your team to say when something has been done good and rewards the efforts of those that are giving their best.

The team needs to know that when something is going bad or is going fine. Communicating will make the difference in continue with the same mistakes or twist it to finally follow the right path
Feedback statistics

Show the problem but also a solution:

One of the most important things that make the difference between complaining and constructive is giving a solution. Sometimes the reason why the people are giving their feedback is that they think that there are better ways to do something, and actually, it is. Encourage your team to give some solutions instead of just feedback, solutions are what we are we looking for. So if your members show the problem and the solution, well they are giving bigger steps for improvement.

Make this kind of practice can help you to have more fruitful feedback and encourage more communication with your team. Also is an excellent form to share knowledge and teach all the members new methods and always look for the best solutions.

Incremental improvement:

One of the most common problems with teams that are trying to improve their practices talking about retrospectives or casual feedback is trying to solve all the problems at once. It is more efficient to try to do it part by part; and it is the same if we talk about feedback. Be consensus about the topics that the team is going to touch in every session. Focus the feedback in little parts and find baby steps for solve every problem, is more probable that your team adopts the change if it is short and will give you more result instead of trying to find a solution of bigger problems and drastic changes.

One excellent way to make that feedback works is making it casually, instead of waiting until the retros session. If you see some members doing something different from you expect for, making notices it or try to speak at that specific moment. This will help you not just to remember what you want to tell your team, but also to make little steps to achieve incremental improvement.

The importance of little things, like casual feedback and little changes, can make all the difference in the way that your team works. Try to adopt some good practices to give feedback and be transparent with your team. You’ll look at how things get better and better. And don't forget to be able for your team if they need to talk about some feedback that they can express, together you can find a better solution.

We know the importance of giving good feedback and We want for you and your team the best practices for your continued improvement. That why have some incredible tools to help your team to be more agile and transparent. Check out some of them.