One of the reasons Scrum allows opportunistic discovery is due to its short and fast feedback loops. With the aim to build a high-performing Team and to get the best potential out of each individual and to help them be successful, Agile Coach needs to provide straight feedback to them. But giving straight feedback is a daunting task especially since we are dealing with human emotions. In general, just the utterance of the statement, “I would like to give you feedback” sends the heart racing for a lot of people.
Recommended Steps for giving Straight Feedback:
- Do not delay too long in giving feedback to the person. Best to give it while the incident/ event is fresh in the mind. My suggestion is to give it within the same day at the latest, if possible.
- Take the person away from team and work environment, even for a coffee or for a walk to maintain it a bit casual. It helps to have such discussion in isolation to avoid other distractions.
- Start by saying something on the lines of –
“I would like to give you feedback on … <topic>”
- Be very specific and do not generalize the feedback as it will lose the essence. It will help maintain focus on the issue.
- Get the person’s opinion on the matter you want to discuss by Asking Powerful Question –
“How do you think you did in this … <topic>?”
- Let the person share his/ her perspective on how he/ she believes the issue was handled. This will also serve as a checkpoint for them to introspect.
- You may choose to then ask the person, “Why do you think you did it that way?” This will help the person to provide their reason for handling things that way.
- Then provide your feedback on the specific topic. Avoid personalized criticism (“you are useless”) or judgmental comments (“your code is useless”) to the person. Give feedback with great humility, love and respect in mind when having such critical conversations. Remember your goal is to get the best of the person and make the individual excel in his / her role.
- Then ask below question to the person to see if she/ he is in agreement –
“What do you think about that?”
- Most likely they will agree with you. You can ask below question to get the person to think about next steps –
“What would you do next time?”
- If the person disagrees, let him/ her vent a bit. Let the person reflect back on it and ask again, “What do you think about that?” If the person agrees, help chalk out the next steps in above point.
- If the person does not take the responsibility, acknowledge it (that he/ she will not take the accountability) and say “I’ll take it from here.” May be a good idea to escalate in case the matter needs intervention from HR.
Have you used this technique? If yes, please share your story.
Coaching for Performance – John Whitmore