Why continuous feedback is vital in the IT industry

Why continuous feedback is vital in the IT industry

Feedback is fundamental for people’s personal and professional development, allowing them to improve, as well as detect failures and strengths. In this article, our PM Rodrigo Paschetta shows us the benefits of switching to a continuous feedback culture.

The software industry is no stranger to the great dilemma of performance evaluations, and many times, they become costly processes and little valued by people. From my point of view, the feedback process is one that we should emphasize the most, especially in our industry.

It is very important as a retention tool to take care of and reward people. The rapid movement of the IT market generates new positions and opportunities that we must cover, so it is important to have tools and people prepared to take on new roles, and within this, to give feedback.

It is critical to have a structure and culture so that the result is good quality feedback. 

What is feedback?

Feedback consists of reactions received from another person after performing a task or activity. It is given in the form of evaluations, advice, or even comments and is intended to provide information to consolidate the path followed and provide future improvements.

Why continuous feedback is vital in the IT Industry

Feedback is fundamental for people’s personal and professional development, which allows them to improve, as well as detect failures and strengths.

However, in some cases, leaders do not give enough feedback, and when it comes to transmitting the message, they do it incorrectly by focusing only on negative issues.

The whole process strengthens leaders’ relationships with their teams, as it involves an interaction based on fluid and respectful communication that seeks to reach agreements to positively influence development and continuous improvement.

Content related: How to attract and retain top developers

How to give effective feedback

Although it is not impossible, it is not a trivial task to give feedback. When making improvements, we always have to think about doing it in a constructive way. On the other hand, in cases of very positive feedback, we have to encourage new challenges. Here are some recommendations for giving effective feedback.

  • Find the time and place: When we give feedback, the context of the scene where we talk to the person is important. It must be a comfortable place for both where they can talk privately without interruptions. Both parties must be aware of what they are going to do and have enough time to do it. It is essential to find a quiet, calm space where the person receiving the news can be focused. Avoid giving feedback to someone at a difficult time, either because of a family problem or if they are facing a deadline. We should postpone it as many times as necessary until the atmosphere is right.
  • Be mindful of manners: It is very common that when faced with a problem, there are emotional responses. If someone needs to review some behavior, they should wait for the moment when emotions go down so that they can adopt a professional and more contemplative tone of the situation. Focus on the problem and not on the situation so that the talk does not become a personal matter; it is not about who the person is but about what the person does. In addition, it is advisable to support your feedback with real and arguable cases. Always look for the positive side if possible and emphasize motivation. 
  • Be specific: The more detail you can provide, the more sense the message will make. It is essential to refer to specific behaviors instead of assumptions and inaccuracies. Generalizations often lead to personal interpretations and misunderstandings, which should be avoided as much as possible. It is recommended to use verbs and avoid adjectives to make the feedback sound as constructive as possible.
Why continuous feedback is vital in the IT Industry
  • Highlight the positive: The good things should be mentioned when giving feedback. Tackle those things that the person does well both at the beginning and at the end. The improvement should be focused on the weaker areas but always using their strengths as a base.

    Planning the order of communication can help. It may be a good idea to start with the positive by congratulating them on achievements and commitment. Then, review the improvements and transform them into opportunities.Finally, reemphasize the goals achieved.
  • Frequency and clarity: Having specific goals and clear expectations helps achieve objectives. Establish a frequency within the team to make sure the event is not sporadic or unexpected. Setting appropriate expectations makes the event fit into the normal work schedule, makes room in the agenda, takes away the mystery component, lowers anxiety about the event for all parties involved, and transparency helps maintain open communication across the team, thereby creating and maintaining a collaborative culture.
  • Listen to the other person: The person should be given room to speak. The meeting should not be a place where only one person speaks; it should be an open opportunity for dialogue. Be attentive and understanding with what they have to say, ask the “Why?” of the tasks they are doing well and the aspects to improve to achieve better performance.

Do not miss this: 5 benefits of a strong organizational culture

Towards a continuous feedback process

How can continuous feedback help us? How can we reach this goal? It will allow us to manage the expectations of all members of the company, because everyone knows what is expected of them, as well as from the company, and leaders will be able to share updated information. It will enable us to correct problems, reinforce ideas, give congratulations, follow up, change processes or procedures, and find opportunities in short times where solutions or decisions are much easier. 

Time is of great relevance in the IT industry, and given the continuous changes that this industry undergoes, it is crucial to detect problems and opportunities quickly.

Achieving this is not a trivial task, and there is no single way to achieve it, but here are some steps to follow.

  • Identification and involvement  

This is the 1st step, and it starts with company-wide alignment with the process. The company should look for a process that fits its culture. You can identify which process (or change) is best through surveys, focus groups, and meetings with all levels of the company, it is important to communicate and convince everyone involved. In some cases, it is better to go gradually to achieve consensus rather than abruptly. The objective is to convince everyone of the importance. After this, it is necessary to move on to the process design stage, where you must work on how it is executed.

  • Implementation and execution
Why continuous feedback is vital in the IT Industry

Here, we must establish how we will do it. Communication channels play a key role. We have to think of a system that is as transparent as possible, and even though there is information that will be confidential, everyone must know what to do and what is being done. The company should hold periodic training sessions at different levels, as well as have information available about the process. Videos and wikis can help a lot to complement the implementation. Also, the use of applications to give feedback, remembering steps and dates of the process, among others, help to streamline, decentralize, and become a key tool in the execution.

One of the most important things here is to establish the periodicity of the feedback. The shorter the period, the easier the feedback will be because fewer issues will be touched upon, and it will be more fluid and natural. It is helpful to establish parameters for what will be discussed in these meetings by providing guidelines on how to give effective feedback. Occasionally, the periodicity can be more or less extensive, but it should not exceed 3 or 4 months. You should formally record the topics discussed in some document or application so that those involved can review it at any time.

  • Follow up and continuous improvement

We must have people trained to follow up and evolve our process. We must also have periodic reviews of quality and quantity of feedback, as well as have global, group, and individual statistical data to give this follow up. Again, having an application that allows us to do this is very important. These data allow us to make decisions on the paths to follow, improve, or change.

We have to be open to continuous improvement both with the data obtained from the process, as well as other ideas that may arise within the organization or outside. We can conduct surveys, focus groups, or meetings to obtain information, as well as be attentive to what is happening outside within other organizations or what new ideas can help us improve.

The last lines

As reflected in the above, the change to a continuous feedback culture is not trivial; it is a costly process in terms of time and resources. It is based on the conviction and commitment of everyone, which is not easy either.

On the other hand, the results are very significant in terms of expectation management, improvement, and communication. That translates directly into people’s well being, and working happier is the ultimate goal. Let’s go for it!