A Peer-to-peer Model of Feedback
In order to provide each other feedback, the first thing you need is a peer-to-peer model of feedback. This is the one we like from Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management by Johanna Rothman and Esther Derby:
- Create an opening to deliver feedback.
- Describe the behavior or result in a way that the person can hear.
- State the impact using "I" language.
- Make a request for changed behavior.
This model is useful for providing change-focused feedback as well as feedback that reinforces positive behaviors.
What About Performance Reviews?
What about performance reviews for helping people to receive feedback about their behavior? Might that not be enough? We have ample evidence that says once-yearly performance reviews don't work. (See the further reading below.) We don't need manager-led performance management or formal performance management. We need in-the-moment feedback, so that people know if they are breaking the build, picking their noses, or doing something else that drives their colleagues crazy.
We don't need formality in an agile environment. We need just a little bit of tooling, such as a way to provide each other direct, reinforcing, and change-focused feedback about things that work and don't work so we know if should continue or change what we are doing.