You are viewing content from a past/completed QCon

Presentation: Baby Got Feedback: How to Give and Take Feedback Like A Boss

Track: Optimizing You: Human Skills for Individuals

Location: Pacific DEKJ

Duration: 2:55pm - 3:45pm

Day of week: Monday

Slides: Download Slides

Level: Intermediate

Persona: Architect, Backend Developer, Chaos/Resiliency/SRE, CTO/CIO/Leadership, Data Engineering, Data Scientist, Developer, Developer, .NET, Developer, JVM, DevOps Engineer, Front-end Developer, General Software, ML Engineer, Mobile Developer, Security Professional, Technical Engineering Manager, UX Designer

Share this on:

This presentation is now available to view on InfoQ.com

Watch video with transcript

What You’ll Learn

 

  1. Hear about the importance of providing and looking for feedback.
  2. Learn how to give positive, actionable feedback.
  3. Find out about the importance of providing feedback immediately, continuously, and empathetically.

Abstract

Giving--and receiving--feedback is hard, especially when we perceive the feedback to be negative. We put it off, and then make the feedback conversation a bigger deal than originally intended. How can you avoid this pitfall and learn to be more comfortable with feedback? This talk uses empirical research, practical tips, and parodied song lyrics around how to be a better feedback receiver and become more effective in giving feedback.

Question: 

What are you doing today?

Answer: 

I use data to make better people decisions. Generally, businesses are really good about being data-driven for anything that gets us revenue. But even really good companies are just now learning that using data for people can actually give them a strategic advantage.

Question: 

What kind of questions do you answer?

Answer: 

I answer questions not just about basic reporting like "What is your organization look like?", "How many people are in each division?", "What's the turnover and churn?", but also more predictive questions like "Can we predict whether or not someone is going to leave?", "Can we can we identify better ways to change culture for individuals?", or "How could we make more meaningful work for people in the organization?".

Question: 

Tell me about the motivation for your talk.

Answer: 

People suck at giving feedback. People suck at taking it, and they suck even more at giving it. There seems to be, across every domain--not just technology or software--this reticence to have a vulnerable conversation about performance, behavior, or attitude. Welcoming that feedback actually makes you a better person, as well as a better feedback giver.

Question: 

Can you give me an example of something you might talk about?

Answer: 

People typically wait too long to get feedback until all of a sudden it results into this larger sit-down conversation that happens at an annual performance review about some behavior that happened four months ago. That results in a whole bunch of bad habits--not just for the manager giving that feedback, but the employee receiving it starts assuming that manager has been holding it against them for the past four months. When you change that behavior and start giving more consistent continuous feedback, you can start trading really small bits of feedback that can change behavior a lot quicker.

Question: 

How do you balance a continual shoulder tapping with the need of getting the message through?

Answer: 

The feedback shouldn't all be negative! There should be positive feedback as part of the continuous feedback loop, both given and received, and include a specific instance. For example, "Hey Wes, when you sent that e-mail, it came across as terse and the response that we got from the other team was more negative than intended. Next time, here's how I'd tweak it." Super short, very straightforward, very easy. The feedback doesn’t imply the receiver is a bad person, just that the action requires a slight change. And it's not four months down the line implying it always happens, it’s immediate.

Question: 

Who are you talking to?

Answer: 

I'm zeroing in on team members specifically, not just managers. Managers need to hear this as well, but I think that we typically rely on those who are above us to be able to give us that feedback. In reality, we as people trying to become better employees and better people, in general, should be able to ask for and provide feedback in a manner that then sets the space for open communication. If it's only the managers who are having that conversation, you're relying on that manager to set the tone for the whole team. But if you can start modeling that behavior to your teammates and your manager as well, all of a sudden you have this great team culture of people who can provide quality feedback that doesn’t hurt feelings and helps the team be productive.

Speaker: Sarah Hagan

Research Manager & Data Scientist, People Analytics @gatesfoundation

Sarah Hagan, Ph.D. is the Research Manager of the People Analytics team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation using analytics and behavioral psychology to understand employees and make work better. She works across BMGF’s People Operations teams to bring data to people practices and ensure they're making the best decisions about employees. Before that, she worked at Redfin and Nordstrom conducting research and designing employee programs to continuously improve culture, leadership, and work environment. Prior to industry, Sarah spent a decade in academia researching personality, human behavior, and emotional regulation, and has a bunch of publications that she's pretty sure have only been read by her mom.

Find Sarah Hagan at

2020 Tracks

  • Architecting for Confidence: Building Resilient Systems

    Your system will fail. Build systems with the confidence to know when they do and you won’t.

  • Remotely Productive: Remote Teams & Software

    More and more companies are moving to remote work. How do you build, work on, and lead teams remotely?

  • Operating Microservices

    Building and operating distributed systems is hard, and microservices are no different. Learn strategies for not just building a service but operating them at scale.

  • Distributed Systems for Developers

    Computer science in practice. An applied track that fuses together the human side of computer science with the technical choices that are made along the way

  • The Future of APIs

    Web-based API continue to evolve. The track provides the what, how, and why of future APIs, including GraphQL, Backend for Frontend, gRPC, & ReST

  • Resurgence of Functional Programming

    What was once a paradigm shift in how we thought of programming languages is now main stream in nearly all modern languages. Hear how software shops are infusing concepts like pure functions and immutablity into their architectures and design choices.

  • Social Responsibility: Implications of Building Modern Software

    Software has an ever increasing impact on individuals and society. Understanding these implications helps build software that works for all users

  • Non-Technical Skills for Technical Folks

    To be an effective engineer, requires more than great coding skills. Learn the subtle arts of the tech lead, including empathy, communication, and organization.

  • Clientside: From WASM to Browser Applications

    Dive into some of the technologies that can be leveraged to ultimately deliver a more impactful interaction between the user and client.

  • Languages of Infra

    More than just Infrastructure as a Service, today we have libraries, languages, and platforms that help us define our infra. Languages of Infra explore languages and libraries being used today to build modern cloud native architectures.

  • Mechanical Sympathy: The Software/Hardware Divide

    Understanding the Hardware Makes You a Better Developer

  • Paths to Production: Deployment Pipelines as a Competitive Advantage

    Deployment pipelines allow us to push to production at ever increasing volume. Paths to production looks at how some of software's most well known shops continuous deliver code.

  • Java, The Platform

    Mobile, Micro, Modular: The platform continues to evolve and change. Discover how the platform continues to drive us forward.

  • Security for Engineers

    How to build secure, yet usable, systems from the engineer's perspective.

  • Modern Data Engineering

    The innovations necessary to build towards a fully automated decentralized data warehouse.

  • Machine Learning for the Software Engineer

    AI and machine learning are more approachable than ever. Discover how ML, deep learning, and other modern approaches are being used in practice by Software Engineers.

  • Inclusion & Diversity in Tech

    The road map to an inclusive and diverse tech organization. *Diversity & Inclusion defined as the inclusion of all individuals in an within tech, regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity, race, age, sexual orientation, and physical or mental fitness.

  • Architectures You've Always Wondered About

    How do they do it? In QCon's marquee Architectures track, we learn what it takes to operate at large scale from well-known names in our industry. You will take away hard-earned architectural lessons on scalability, reliability, throughput, and performance.