Feedback culture: Coaching technical and IT teams to success
No area in a company develops as quickly as IT. New technologies and processes have been shaped in the past, in particular, by the fast and agile way of working in information technology, have been created in some cases and are now being implemented in all areas of companies — agile project management, Kanban or Design Thinking are probably the most common developments used in many companies today. Especially for IT teams, an open and free feedback culture is important.
The special way of working and the associated speed in the IT sector directly impact teams and thus also on managers. In this article, I address the specifics of the feedback culture for IT teams and give young managers tips on creating a cooperative and harmonious structure in their teams. The goal is to promote employee motivation and thus enable productive teamwork sustainably.
Goodbye rigid structures — Why feedback must be situational
Mid-year reviews and year-end reviews are common and proven management tools in many companies. The aim is to ensure that employees receive feedback on their performance at regular intervals and within a clearly structured framework.
The problem with this rigid type of feedback:
All the little moments and projects in between get lost in the process, and then they’re not as present in the minds of the people involved for three or four months.
Particularly the individual performance in the team is then sometimes difficult to recapitulate. To establish a regular and targeted exchange, it is important to give feedback spontaneously and leave the well-trodden paths of year-end meetings. The advantage: situations can be discussed directly afterward. This makes the feedback much more precise, up-to-date, and therefore more valuable for the employees. Also, developments can be initiated in the middle of the year.
An individual approach instead of one-size-fits-all
At the beginning of the new structures, team leaders should basically get a precise picture of their team: What are the extrinsic goals of each team member, how do they motivate themselves, what are their strengths, and what are their areas of development?
Regular one-on-one meetings, e.g., every week, help to take stock of the situation and improve team cohesion and show what challenges the individual employees are currently facing. To establish a management style that is as cooperative and productive as possible, managers can assist. In this way, employees find a solution themselves or, if this cannot be done by the respective employee because, for example, hierarchies play a role, the managers take care of the matter. The guidelines for good support are communication skills, problem-solving strategies, and the personal skills of the respective team member.
Even a brief daily exchange in the morning at the employee’s workplace as a daily greeting routine helps employees place important and urgent issues and get to know the employee better.
The following steps help establish a continuous feedback culture with yourself and employees.
Team leaders should pay close attention to their employees so they can give them appropriate feedback.
Important: In this case, paying attention does not mean observing. Absolute no-goes are, for example, spying on employees, eavesdropping on conversations, or working through work results such as software codes.
Take your time
Not only do team members benefit from regular feedback, but so do leaders.
Through small discussions, they get to know their employees better and improve their own way of giving feedback.
In addition to these agile and short feedback sessions, the fixed annual meetings should also continue to give space to overarching topics, such as salary issues or promotions.
Managers are always part of a team.
A good manager always has an ear to the ground and is aware of small changes. Through regular exchange and a fixed framework for giving feedback, team leaders increase their employees' trust and cohesion in the team. This gives team members more space, ultimately gives them more confidence and more fun at work!
This article first appeared in German here.