Build your dream team

Success tips for a constructive startup feedback culture

Feedback is a valuable source for improvement when done correctly.
3
Min Read
November 11, 2021
Journey to a dream team series: What is a dream team? What does it take? And how will you get there? The journey includes several iterations, feedback loops, coaching, presentations, and developing handy visual tools to manifest the implemented changes along the way. We will be sharing all insights with you in the upcoming five separate articles: The best team setup, Build a vision & mission, Team values & behaviours, Right goal setting, Communication & feedback. Every article will include a substantial piece of content, concept/method you can download and work through with your team.

Startups are exciting – especially innovative ones that explore completely new business fields, technologies, or approaches. Their innovation and non-standard way of handling things is what makes them stand out when compared to established corporations. However, there is one thing that startups can take away from the big companies: standardized feedback processes.

Feedback is a valuable source for improvement when done correctly. We at CONUFACTUR, a Wayra's resident startup, compiled Do's and Don’ts for giving and taking feedback as well as a look at the 360-DegreeFeedback approach that guides you in the direction of constructive feedback culture.

Executive Summary

·       There are basic rules that apply to giving and taking feedback. By following those rules, you can create a productive and safe framework for all parties involved.

·       The SBIW feedback technique helps you prepare and formulate your feedback to make it more constructive, objective, and comprehensible.

·       The 360-Degree Feedback process involves participants with different perspectives to ensure comprehensive feedback. It adds benefits to classic approaches.

Feedback Do's and Don’ts

 

When it comes to feedback, there are always two parties involved: the one giving feedback and the one receiving it. To ensure a constructive direction, here are a few guidelines both parties should follow.

 

Do's and Don’ts for the Feedback Giver

yes sign in blue

·      Adopt an appreciative basic attitude

·      Address only concrete & changeable behaviour

·      Always address positive behaviour (80:20 rule: 80%positive)

·      Communicate in I-messages

·      Use SBIW feedback technique (see further below)

·      Create an appropriate setting (place, time, context)

No sign in purple

·      No exaggerations

·      No generalizations

·      Unless asked, be cautious about giving advice

·      Never conduct a feedback meeting unprepared

Do's and Don’ts for the Feedback Taker

yes sign in blue

·      Adopt a basic open attitude

·      Let the feedback giver speak

·      Let feedback sink in & reflect

·      Ask for concrete examples

·      Agree with valid points

·      Thank for the feedback

no sign in purple

·      Do not take a justifying attitude

·      Do not take factual feedback personally

·      Do not look for excuses or blame

The SBIW Feedback Technique

 

The term “feedback” is, after all, merely a euphemism for critique. Nobody likes to critique others and nobody particularly likes being critiqued. To make sure that the feedback is constructive and does not negatively impact the business relationship of the feedback giver and taker, CONUFACTUR recommends the giver to prepare the feedback situation with the help of the SBIW Feedback Tool.

SBIW feedback tool

·       S for Situation
Provide feedback on a specific situation and describe it: When and where did it take place?

·       B for Behaviour
Describe the behaviour you observed. Only focus on what you could actually perceive.

·       I for Impact
Describe the impact the behaviour has on you and/or the startup.

·       W for Wish
Formulate the desired behaviour for the future.

Use the technique to prepare for your conversation, rather than spontaneously providing feedback since that can obstruct constructive feedback and damage the feedback culture in your startup.

The 360-Degree Feedback Process

 

From the perspective of a leader, 360-Degree Feedback comes from five sources with each of the sources providing feedback on different aspects: supervisors, employees, colleagues, customers, self-assessment.

1. Your supervisor is probably most likely to comment on your entrepreneurial behaviour, willingness to learn and flexibility. Their feedback can result in an alleviation for you.

2. Your employees might give you feedback on your leadership skills, communication skills and conflict ability. Constructive feedback from them can give you encouragement.

3. Your colleagues work alongside you every day and can therefore give you feedback on your teamwork and interpersonal skills as well as problem-solving abilities. Hearing positive affirmations and constructive criticism from them could boost your self-motivation.

4. Your customers can evaluate best your customer-orientation and will thus perhaps comment on your skills in planning and organization. Feedback on those aspects will probably make you feel involved.

5. Ideally, you will automatically compare the provided feedback to your own perception, starting a process of self-reflection.

Examples for 360-Degree Feedback Items

Depending on the source and its focus, you can receive and provide feedback on many different aspects of work life. Here are a few examples of what aspects 360-Degree Feedback can focus on:

Your employees will consider these aspects when preparing a feedback for you:

·       Do they bring positive energy to the team?

·       Do they motivate us (their employees) to do our best?

·       Do they communicate their priorities clearly and precisely?

·       Do they inform us about the reasons and goals of their decisions and actions?

 

You colleagues, on the other hand, might think about these aspects:

·       How do they handle sensitive topics?

·       Are they supportive of other team members?

·       Do they actively tackle challenges?

 

Your supervisors will, again, have a unique perspective and most likely care more about things like:

·       Do they display a strategic mindset?

·       Do they act upon the entrepreneurial interests of our startup?

·       Do they find long-term solutions for challenges?

·       How high a level of willingness to learn and perform do they show?

·       Do they act in accordance with our startup values?

Benefits of the 360-Degree Feedback Process

The 360-Degree Feedback approach adds some distinct benefits to your regular feedback:

·       It helps recognizing talents and potentials early on,

·       Is more inclusive and fairer than classic feedback processes,

·       Grants more objectivity (due to incorporating a variety of perspectives),

·       Leads to more honest feedback (since the technique is based on anonymous feedback rather than direct feedback approaches),

·       Encourages self-reflection and the acceptance of constructive criticism (since everybody is giver and taker of feedback at once).

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Written by
Anja Sinz

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