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Detroit Labs - Management

In a previous article, we talked about how we structure our teams here at Labs. With so many different perspectives and opinions working so closely together, the art of giving (and receiving) feedback becomes a critical, powerful tool for a team.

At Detroit Labs, continuous and meaningful feedback is highly encouraged and valued. When feedback — both constructive and positive — is offered properly, it has the potential to grow and develop team members, improve communication amongst teams, and strengthen team relationships.

Giving and receiving feedback can be difficult. Below are a few best practices that Detroit Labs team members implement when delivering feedback to each other. 

Tips for Delivering Feedback

1. Be timely

In-the-moment feedback is more impactful and leads to better results because it allows you to speak to specifics rather than generalities. Feedback should be centered around facts, not stories. Providing it as close to when you observe the behavior as possible makes it easier to deliver the facts.

2. Be positive

A Harvard Business Review article reveals that the optimal positive to negative feedback ratio is five positive comments for every negative one. Positive feedback can be just as powerful as constructive feedback. It helps to highlight healthy behaviors that you want to exist on the team, encourage team members to do more of it, and it’s a nice ‘feel-good’ moment. We encourage positive feedback and recognition as frequently as possible. Some examples of when to provide recognition can include:

  • A team member has done a great job 
  • A team member stepped out of their comfort zone
  • An individual supported their team in their project goals
  • A team member supported another team member
3. Consider the medium 

When delivering feedback, consider the medium for delivering your feedback as well as your team member’s preference for receiving feedback. It might be helpful to ask a team member how they like to receive feedback and recognition – making it clear that it’s OK to say they appreciate public recognition. At Detroit Labs, we often use our Team Agreement as an opportunity to talk about giving and receiving feedback and reinforcing it on a team level. 

When considering the medium for delivering your feedback, make sure you identify what works best for your situation – sometimes it is appropriate to share feedback team-wide in public-facing channels, whereas other times it might be more appropriate to deliver it in a one-on-one setting. 

4. Follow up 

Meaningful, constructive feedback conversations can be tough – no matter how sincere both parties are. To ensure you both walked away from the conversation on the same page, send a written recap after delivering the feedback. Reiterate/summarize the conversation, reinstate that the goals/reason of the feedback, and how the feedback will help the individual become a better team member. It’s important that the feedback is not centered around opinions, likes, or dislikes You should also include any next steps that had been identified during the conversation.

It’s also helpful and encouraging to follow up when you see change. If you deliver a piece of feedback to someone and they start practicing it, recognize and acknowledge that!