For many companies (including mine), feedback is an essential part of building a good company culture. Building a feedback culture means encouraging all employees to give feedback to their peers, their managers, and their reports. Regular feedback helps identify areas of improvement (both on an individual level and on a company-wide level) and can also reinforce existing positive company culture and encourage employees to continue iterating on and enforcing positive aspects of the company's culture and work. Part of building a good feedback culture is ensuring that all employees are invested in building the culture and in giving and receiving productive feedback. My company has a focus on building and maintaining a strong feedback culture, which means that I as an individual at the company need to understand the importance of giving and receiving feedback.
My first introduction to my company's focus on feedback came in my second week at the job, during our all-company onsite event. We had a feedback workshop as one of our sessions, and while I remember appreciating that session when it happened, I also don't remember anything that was discussed in that presentation. Even though I don't remember what I was supposed to be learning about feedback (in my defense, having an all-company onsite the week after my onboarding made everything extra overwhelming), I did walk away understanding that my company was working to foster a positive and productive feedback culture.
When setting my goals for 2020, I was encouraged to set a goal around feedback and culture (it was part of the company guideline for goals). I was setting my goals for the first half of the year just as I got assigned to a new manager (who was herself new to managing), so I thought a good feedback goal would be to give feedback to my new manager at a regular cadence. That didn't go so well (it turns out I'm not great at knowing when to give feedback or what feedback to give), so for the second half of the year, I set a more concrete goal - adding one positive comment to our retro at the end of every sprint. I also set a secondary goal of giving feedback to my team outside of our retrospective. I did okay with the retro goal (some sprints I was working on things independent of most of my team's work so I didn't have a lot to add), but failed at giving feedback outside of retro. I went into the year wanting to get better at giving feedback, and it didn't feel like my goals helped me get there.
Some of my professional learning over the last year or so has been based around courses on LinkedIn Learning, and I realized recently that I can use that as a tool to help me learn more about feedback. I believe that learning more about feedback and how to give (and receive) feedback will help me develop better feedback habits, and if my company asks me to set a feedback-related goal this year, my goal will likely be to learn more about feedback (most likely measured by setting a number of LinkedIn Learning courses to watch). I've searched the platform for courses about feedback and there are quite a few courses for me to choose from. So far I've watched one course on giving and receiving feedback, but I don't felt like I fully absorbed it, so I plan to watch it again soon and take notes.
Watching that first course has already given me an idea for how to better embrace feedback. I know that to truly grow from receiving feedback (and to grow into someone who can give productive feedback), I need to absorb feedback that is given to me and understand how to use it to improve my work. I am planning to create a "feedback notebook", where I write down the feedback that I receive from my co-workers. For each piece of feedback, I want to first determine if I see it as positive or negative feedback. For positive feedback, I want to include a note about how it made me feel, which gives me something to look back on when I'm struggling to see my contributions to the company. For negative feedback, I want to write down what I can learn from that feedback and what steps I can take to ensure that I don't receive the same feedback again.
I know that making feedback a regular part of my work routine will have positive long-term impacts on my work and my career growth. Learning to better absorb feedback and understanding what I can learn from each piece of feedback can help me grow into a better developer and a better collaborator. I also want to be part of building a good feedback culture at my company, both to ensure that I'm getting the most effective feedback and to ensure that the company is able to grow and my coworkers are able to flourish and be at their best. I know that to be part of this great feedback culture I need to learn more about giving and receiving feedback, and I'm excited to work on that over the coming months.