The secret to creating great teams lies in encouraging regular constructive feedback. Feedback shared in the right way promotes an environment of continuous improvement. It motivates people and drives them to succeed.
This may seem like obvious advice but I'm always amazed by how often people don't pay attention to it. A lack of regular feedback, whether negative or positive, has the opposite effect. It impedes learning and lets small issues develop into bigger problems. It can lead to a breakdown in trust and ultimately the development of a toxic environment.
Good feedback is more than only one-way coaching between a manager and report. It requires regular communication between all team members and in all directions. People sharing and accepting input on their work and interactions in an open manner.
Encouraging the sharing of regular feedback in teams helps them develop in a variety of ways. Some of which are more obvious than others:-
The challenge is that sharing feedback in teams is hard to do. As a result, it often does not happen naturally. In the case of good feedback, people may brush-over successes or positive behaviour. They may feel it should be the norm or are uncomfortable complimenting others. Providing negative feedback, in a constructive manner, is even harder. Without the appropriate channels and culture, it can feel like a personal attack.
As a result, many people avoid giving any feedback to others until things are bad. This can be particularly true in tech companies, where people tend towards being more introverted. If left alone, teams can revert to avoiding issues and speaking up only when they are serious.
Creating an environment where people expect and appreciate feedback is key to avoiding this. The culture and mechanisms that drive communication in a company should be carefully considered. Tools that work well include 1-on-1 meetings, regular structured 360 feedback and retrospective sessions. Leading by example is also critical. Expect feedback from others, whether they are peers, managers or reports. Make sure that this expectation is clear to them and follow up if you don't receive regular feedback yourself.