Varna WordPress Meetup — May 2018 (Effective Feedback)

I spoke at a local WordPress meetup last week. The topic was effective feedback, more related to people than products or services. In this post, I’m going to describe the main parts of my talk.

Intro

The session started with my introduction and why I had decided to talk about this topic.

What is feedback?

I briefly described what is feedback and my definition was:

Feedback is providing information to a person about something that has been done, which is used as a basis for improvement. It shows what the person’s performance is.

The main feedback sources I noted were:

  • partners — they tell us what we do better and what can be improved;
  • statistics — they show us our progress;
  • managers — they provide information to each team member;
  • team members — they provide information back to their managers how the workflow and the internal procedures can be streamlined;
  • friends — you’ll probably receive the honest feedback from your friends;
  • social media — if you post something on a social media, your followers might comment your article.

Short story

Before talking about the main types of feedback, I told the attendees a short story. It was about how I initially had internal communication problems with my team in my first year as a project manager, and how giving and receiving feedback solved the problems and increased the productivity.

Feedback types

Four main feedback types were described during my talk, and I’m going to summarize them below.

Constructive feedback

The essential part of this feedback type is that it focuses on the problems and what has been done, rather than people. It consists of two subtypes.

The first one is negative feedback. It is easy to praise someone, but sometimes we have to discuss something that has caused problems. The idea here is to show with examples what is wrong and what can be done to solve the problems. The discussion should be two-way communication — that way, everyone will know what is expected.

The second one is positive feedback. Here we also show examples, but the focus is what has been done correctly. I recommend encouraging such behavior. 

Praise

This type is providing positive statements about a person, but we don’t go into detail. We say something positive.

However, we should be careful here because praising too much might affect the productivity.

Criticism

This includes criticising someone about something without describing what can be done in order to address the issues. The focus here is the person, not the problems/results.

Criticising doesn’t lead to something positive and we should avoid it.

Growth

What I mean here is to recommend your team members to learn new skills that will be helpful for them in future. Such skills should be based on previous experience.

For example, since Gutenberg will be added to the WordPress core soon, learning ES6 and React will be very helpful for a developer who works with WordPress and needs to create custom Gutenberg blocks.

What is effective feedback?

I believe feedback is effective if it is:

  • specific;
  • clear;
  • constructive;
  • immediate;
  • regular if you lead a team;
  • honest.

Also, it should help learning something new.

Why feedback is important?

The simple answer is that it improves us and increases our productivity. Also, it helps us to solve problems quickly.

Statistics

Here are a few statistics I presented during the talk:

  • 65% of employees said they wanted more feedback.
  • 69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized.
  • 78% of employees said being recognized motivates them in their job.
  • 98% of employees will leave their job if they don’t receive feedback.

Source: https://www.slideshare.net/Officevibe/statistics-on-the-importance-of-employee-feedback

Summary

Let me recap everything described above. We should:

  • give constructive feedback(both positive and negative);
  • provide specific examples;
  • focus on problems and results, not people;
  • praise but not often;
  • not criticise;
  • communicate and listen each other;
  • request and receive feedback;
  • and finally set long-term goals.