How to give feedback the right way as developer?

How to give feedback the right way as developer?

Giving and receiving feedback is an essential skill for professional and personal growth. Effective feedback helps people improve their work, strengthen relationships, and achieve goals. Here are some key principles for giving and getting feedback that actually makes a difference:

Make it specific

When providing feedback as a software developer, focus on concrete and objective behaviours, not personality or intentions. Mention specific examples of what the person did well or could improve. Vague feedback leaves people confused and defensive. Here are those examples to illustrate this point:

The code you put on a PR definitely can't be merged! You have to refactor that to our standards
In your PR I noted that the error handling was not as robust as it could be. When the user enters invalid input, the system doesn't provide clear error messages, making it challenging to understand what went wrong. You could consider implementing more detailed error messages that could help users get stuff done.

Be constructive

Instead of solely highlighting what went wrong, focus on how the person can improve or grow from the experience. Provide suggestions or ask for their ideas on how to tackle any issues. If the topic is particularly difficult you can try to leverage methods like brainstorming or design thinking to reduce problem size. Directly destructive criticism rarely helps anyone. Moreover, it can cause unwanted friction between team members.

You're kinda quiet in our team meetings, why can't you speak up a bit?
I've noticed you haven't been chiming in much during our meetings. Your input could really help steer our backlog planning. Feel free to jump in with your thoughts on the project hurdles or any ideas you have. It's not just about you sharing your expertise but making sure we're all on the same page. How can we make the meetings more engaging for you?

Balance positive and negative

For every piece of critical feedback, provide two to five positive comments. This helps soften criticism and build confidence. Many researchers tried to calculate what would be the best positive-to-negative feedback ratio. For some time results of the Heaphy and Losada research took stages showing high-performing teams to have a ratio of 5:1 positive to negative feedback. However data quality in that research was later ofter undermined, so for now we have to eyeball it.

Keep it honest but kind

When offering feedback as a dev, honesty is crucial for growth, but it should always be paired with kindness. Feedback has to be definitive and specific enough to address the underlying issue, but if given in too harsh fashion it may be hard to digest or be received as a cutting comment. Being truthful and transparent fosters trust, yet how feedback is delivered greatly influences its impact. You have to be aware that people may take things differently than you. Their level of empathy or emotional reaction may vary, so try to read the crowd.

Your communication skills definitely need improvement, barely anyone gets what you are talking about.
I've noted it myself that there might be room for improvement in your communication skills. Clear comms are vital for us, especially in remote work scenarios and I believe you have the potential to excel in this area. How about I share with you a few moments where I had trouble grasping what you tried to tell?

Make it a two-way conversation

Ask for the person's perspective and thoughts. Listen to their response and clarify any misunderstandings. Feedback is a gift - give people the space to reflect on how they can improve going forward. It's not fire&forget bite one can shoot at another. In a lot of situations, you can be sharing negative feedback on a case where you are missing another perspective. Give the recipient a chance to state his take on it - you most likely will learn something new that could help you find a much better long-term solution.

That presentation didn't go too well, did it? You could prepare much better next time...
I appreciate your effort in the presentation. What do you think went well, and where do you see opportunities for improvement? Let's discuss how we can refine our presentation techniques together.

Focus on behaviour, not personality

To remain professional, you should separate what someone did from who they are. True soft skill mastermind should be able to comment in the same way the coworker he hates and his best office buddy. Criticize the action, not the person. This keeps feedback factual and avoids making people feel personally attacked. The last thing you want is for a recipient to categorize feedback given as a bitey personal note. That is the highest octane fuel for toxicity within the team.

You're so irresponsible and disrespectful for always being late.
Let's make an effort to start meetings on time to ensure everyone's available and productive. No one likes it when our plans go sideways

Check for understanding

So here's the lowdown, final check on making feedback stick – it's not just about saying what you have to say, it's about making sure everyone gets it. After you've laid out your thoughts, it's time to check for understanding, like making sure we're all vibing to the same beat. Misunderstandings are like the gremlins of feedback; they mess things up big time. Surprisingly, one of the easiest ways to do so is just to ask straightforwardly:

So how do you understood that point? Is it clear what I shared with you?

A Misunderstanding | Know Your Meme