Building a Team Through Feedback

The ability to give honest, effective feedback to someone is important. Equally important is the ability to hear and understand that feedback. Learn how to use good feedback to build a stronger team.

If you walk through a high-performing agile team space, you'll hear a buzz about the product:

“Do you see this?”

"Bump that."

"Ah ha!"

"Tell me more about what you want."

“But that is part of the acceptance criteria.”

"We should do it this way."

What you won't hear is just as telling, especially on a not-so-high-performing team. Sometimes, you have to see the sideways glances and grimaces to know that things are not working well interpersonally. And, if things are not working well between people, then they also will not work well in the product. Conway’s Law (paraphrased: "The product architecture reflects the team's architecture") proves that.

In traditional team cultures, feedback has been the sole responsibility of the manager. On agile teams, it's more important for feedback to be peer to peer, because the manager doesn’t know the minute-by-minute details of what's going on within the team.

What if it were not only the sole responsibility of managers but also of the team itself to provide guidance for an individual's growth? Building feedback into the culture creates a team with members who have a stronger sense of responsibility for one another. They will self-correct interpersonal and work-quality issues better and faster than a traditional team.


About the author

Lisamarie Babik's picture Lisamarie Babik

Lisamarie Babik is a practice leader in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is an oft sought-after speaker for conferences and professional organizations who, if you let her, will talk your ear off about interpersonal communication, team dynamics, and the burgeoning world of "agile project management." You can contact her at

About the author

Johanna Rothman's picture Johanna Rothman

Johanna Rothman, known as the “Pragmatic Manager,” helps organizational leaders see problems and risks in their product development. She helps them recognize potential “gotchas,” seize opportunities, and remove impediments. Johanna was the Agile 2009 conference chair. She is the technical editor for Agile Connection and the author of these books:

  • Manage Your Job Search
  • Hiring Geeks That Fit
  • Manage Your Project Portfolio: Increase Your Capacity and Finish More Projects
  • The 2008 Jolt Productivity award-winning Manage It! Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management
  • Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management
  • Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets and Science of Hiring Technical People

Johanna is working on a book about agile program management. She writes columns for and projectmanagementcom and blogs on her website,, as well on

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