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How ToSoftware

How To Give Productive Feedback In A Software Team

3 Mins read

If you are looking for How to give productive feedback particularly in a software team, look no further. However, this applies to all kinds of teams! Every software team is going to have disagreements, some that are larger than others — and it’s inevitable. No matter how perfect your code is, there will be individuals in your team who feel the need to challenge you and attempt to improve your work. That much we can all agree on.

The challenge comes in reconciling the need to give constructive criticism with their motivation for doing so. As a team leader, you have to strike a balance between finding out where your team needs improvement and helping them improve — there’s of course the added benefit that it also ensures that your code remains in tip-top condition.

While this is all difficult enough, it’s easy to feel disillusioned if you’re never able to successfully get your point across effectively. There’s a lot of baggage and history in software development, which can make it hard for new members of the team to understand exactly what you’re thinking when they disagree with you. It’s overwhelming to think that there’s no right or wrong way to feel about your work, as long as you’re not hurting anyone.

Tips on how to give productive feedback

1. Don’t dismiss the feedback, but don’t treat it as the one and only truth either

One of the most important things to remember when giving feedback is that you’re giving your perspective, and in no way are you claiming to be the authority on how to do things. Your objective is to find out where people feel that they could be doing better — but don’t be afraid to defend yourself if they’re on shaky ground. In every team there will always be someone who wants to prove themselves as an up-and-comer — it’s a good thing!

2. Listen carefully

It may sound obvious, but listening attentively is critical if you want your team members to take your feedback seriously. It can be tough to be the first one to speak up and voice a concern, but if you’re not careful you may find yourself shutting yourself off from your colleagues entirely. This can block your ability to understand the root cause of their concerns, and will likely lead to an even more difficult conversation further down the line.

3. Try not to let emotions get in the way

It’s easy to become defensive when someone is critical of your work — especially if you feel like they’re completely attacking something you’ve worked hard on. It’s important to remember that the person who’s giving feedback is not trying to attack you, but is instead trying to help you improve.

4. Don’t jump to conclusions

It may seem obvious, but try not to take things personally in the moment — no matter how heated the conversation gets. It can be tough to bite your tongue and resist defending yourself, but it’s an important skill that you’ll gain over time by forcing yourself through these kinds of conversations.

5. Consider their motivation

If someone has tried to get something done a certain way before and failed, they will have a natural bias towards recommending this path again — even if they know that it has already been tried and rejected previously.

6. Give continuous feedback

Be mindful of how your team members are working, and keep an eye out for them making the same mistakes on a repeated basis. If they’re constantly making the same mistakes in their code, it’s a sign that they’re not getting the right kind of feedback. This can often be resolved by providing more focused feedback early on in their development cycle, rather than waiting until it’s too late and they’ve already written a lot of wrong code.

7. Everyone makes mistakes

There’s no such thing as perfect code — not even close! Mistakes happen, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on improving ourselves at all.

Conclusion

The only way to get better at giving feedback is to get better at giving feedback. As a team leader, the best thing you can do is lead by example, and that means making sure that you’re able to give constructive criticism when it’s necessary.

There’s no doubt that your team will benefit in the long run, and it may even mean that you have a greater chance of keeping your job as well! If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of some unhelpful feedback, here are a few simple steps you can follow to help improve the quality of your codebase, see more here on tips to make code reviews better.

Don’t miss amazing tips!

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