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Agile Feedback Dynamics: how to continuous learn from your team

If you want to know more about me and what I previously wrote, check Part 1: Effective Feedback Essentials: asking, giving, and receiving input from others


Some people think there’s only one way of doing feedback: as one-an-one sessions. That’s probably one of the most used dynamics for sure, but there are other fresh ways of doing feedback rounds that encourages team participation and relevant group discussions.

Let’s talk about learning of yourself from your teammates, and how to learn with them about the work you do together.

Speedback or Speed Feedback

Speedback is similar to speed dating, have you heard of it? On Speedback sessions, you have about 6 minutes to give and receive feedback from someone. For 3 minutes, you will be the receiver, and another 3 minutes, you will be the giver. Once the timer runs out, you change pairs and repeat the same dynamic until everyone in the group has given and received feedback from everyone else.

A great thing about Speedback is that it’s swift, so you have to be concise and focus on what matters. It’s a great way of practicing synthesis skill, and I think it’s fun and enjoyable because it takes the pressure off. Sometimes people don’t feel comfortable giving feedback or struggle with finding the right time to do so. Especially if they are shy or in lower positions, like interns and juniors. Some may feel they don’t belong there because they’re part of a marginalized group.

This dynamic puts people on the same plainfield because everyone has the opportunity to talk and listen. It can build confidence so they can start doing this more naturally.

Also, it is an opportunity to hear from everyone you work with on the same day and get lots of different perspectives on the same subject. You can set the topics you wish to receive feedback previously to the session, and people will prepare feedback based on what you asked. More than ever, for Speedback preparation is a must-have. Without this step the dynamic will be a disaster.

Here is Josh Richardson’s post for those who wanna learn how to facilitate a Speedback session. If your team is remote, Amanda Vieira’s post can help you (available in Portuguese only).

Retrospective

I feel people don’t frequently describe retros as feedback dynamic, but it is! The Retrospective is an opportunity for the team to inspect itself and create a plan for improvements to be enacted during the next sprint. Is this not what I have been saying so far? Instead of thinking about one-person strengths and weaknesses, we’ll think about the team’s achievements and struggles.

Ideally, a retrospective occurs after the Sprint Review and before the next Sprint Planning, and all teammates should attend. Usually, the team decides which topics they want to discuss and pick a facilitator to run the meeting. The facilitator should find a retro dynamic that will enable the team to ponder upon the raised topics. A frequent retro dynamic is to discuss what went well, what could be improved, and then define action items of what we will commit to improving in the next sprint. It’s the entire team’s responsibility to carry on the decided actionable, so retros teach people about accountability and ownership. Everyone is responsible for our successes and failures.

What I love about Retro is the anonymity, you only identify yourself if you want. So if someone is feeling insecure or unsafe, it’s a great way of becoming aware of this problem.

Teams often do a Safety Check before starting a retro, so we can understand how safe the team is feeling about sharing how they are actually feeling. If the safety is low, there’s a big problem with the team dynamic that needs to be fixed immediately, so the retro will be paused, and people will discuss why the team is not feeling safe to speak their minds. It’s not about finger-pointing; it is about knowing how people are doing in the workplace.

There are many types of retrospectives. Each model focuses on generating different discussions and fixing diverse problems. If you want to learn more, you can go to Fun Retrospectives.

Thanks for reading!


Check out the last post from the series "What Effective Feedback can do for you career":

Part 3 - Feedback Boundaries: when its time to go beyond feedback

Laura Lemos

Multidimensional designer, agilist, content creator, researcher, speaker and teacher with the goal to share and democratize access to knowledge.