In companies, we very often see a situation where feedback is not happening at all or there is a middleman in the form of a manager or an Agile coach who takes feedback from all team members, processes it, and then hands it over on a 1-on-1 meeting to a particular person. We call this “carrying water for someone else”. Today we will talk about a tool that you can use to do 360 feedback transparently and with the whole team at once. However, the needed precondition is having a safe environment which we have mentioned before in our articles.
How does this feedback work?
The team meets at a given place including the Team leader, Agile coach, and Product owner.
- The first round is started by the Agile coach or the Team lead.
- The round always starts with self-reflection answering these questions:
- What have I done well? What do I think I am good at?
- What do I think I have to improve?
- Others in the team then follow one after another and give feedback about the person (in the same format).
- If there is something during the round that people agree with, they show 👍.
- After the round is over, there is a short reflection of what I have heard from the others.
Next rounds follow after in the same fashion, until everyone has the opportunity to give and receive feedback to/from everyone. For the conclusion there is the final reflection of the whole group where everyone answers these questions:
- What are my takeaways?
- How useful was this meeting for me? (1 to 5 – 5 is max.)
- Would I like to repeat this format in the future? If so, then how often?
However for everything to go well, 6 golden rules need to be respected within the team.
6 golden rules of the game
- When giving feedback we are constructive and we are not judgemental (we avoid sentences like ”Something is terribly wrong” etc.).
- Don’t repeat what has already been said.
- Write down notes about the feedback you receive, they will be useful in the future.
- Set your mindset to: “Feedback is a gift others give me feedback so that I can improve in the future.”
- It’s fair to say “ I don’t have anything” rather than fabricate something on the spot.
- Be specific and ideally use examples (“You always do this..” vs. “On the last daily meeting you…”)
Getting the team ready
If your team is not experienced with 360 feedback it’s definitely a good idea to introduce this tool in advance. With this tool, preparation pays off tremendously. Here are a couple of tips that have worked well for us:
- Sell the idea – explain to the team what benefits it has, how it will look like and what they can expect.
- At this moment first internal fears come to light – that’s why you should consider planning a 1-on-1 meeting with everyone in the team where you talk about everything in detail and encourage all your team members.
- Don’t forget that your team doesn’t have to be great in giving feedback so it’s important to prepare a group training about giving feedback or at least talk to the individuals that are interested in learning how to do it right.
- Choosing the right place can support an informal atmosphere so don’t hesitate to connect this activity with a team lunch or dinner and after the feedback, you can stay in the restaurant. It’s also possible to do it online, but webcams turned on are a must in this case.
- The ideal length, in the beginning, is about 2 hours, you will see if that’s enough for your team and you can adjust after. In general, you should always work with at least 15 minutes per team member.
Getting team members ready
Every participant should get ready really well – here are a couple of tips and tricks that we recommend:
- You only gain as much as you invest in the preparation (preparation is the essence here)
- Think about it in advance and write this down
- From my perspective – What am I good at? What should I improve?
- For each team member – What is he/she good at? What is there to improve?
- Don’t forget that the feedback concerns all team members (Agile Coach, Product Owner and Team lead) – prepare feedback for them as well.
- Set your mindset to: “I am here to get a gift from the others, not criticism…” and “I have the responsibility to give the gift to others and “wrap” it the right way”
- The Agile coach knows the whole team well, therefore needs to schedule a one-on-one preparation with the members where inadequate reaction about the received feedback is expected.
What else has worked well for us?
Please take the following tips as your options on how to enhance the 360 live feedback. Each team might be comfortable with something else so don’t hesitate to experiment and look for what is right for your team.
- During the meeting, there are often topics that need some more follow-up discussions. Create a parking lot where you can write those topics down – whiteboard or some sticky notes.
- You can also agree within the team that people will prepare feedback for everyone on two sticky notes (red and green) and after the feedback round is over they will hand over those sticky notes to the particular person.
- If you work from home one of your team members can edit a recording of the meeting so that everyone gets their own part of the feedback. That can later be used to listen to it once more and think about it after some time (it saves a lot of time because you don’t have to write notes and especially people from IT like it very much).
- Before the meeting, each team member announces one particular thing that he/she would like to get feedback on (like communication, quality of code reviews, etc.).
If you are still unsure if 360 live feedback is a good tool for you, we recommend trying it because from our experience you have nothing to lose. Because it’s never a right or wrong time for a 360 but it’s always the right time to be honest and transparent to each other in order to improve. You can only benefit from it whether you decide to do it regularly or not because either way, it is still a valuable learning experience for the whole team.