Healthy feedback is essential to creating a culture where team members feel safe, connected to each other, and motivated to do their jobs well. In my experience, speed feedback, or Sfeedback, is an easy and effective way to facilitate healthy feedback culture at work.
Sfeedback is like speed dating for giving and receiving positive feedback. Team members are paired with each other to give and receive feedback in quick (10 minute) remote sessions. It takes some preparation to ensure everything runs smoothly but the benefits are worth it. Sfeedback can help your team become more comfortable with giving and receiving feedback, and encourage them to incorporate it into their work as they grow in their career.
It’s important to note that while Sfeedback is great for giving and receiving positive feedback, it’s not the best environment for constructive feedback. For more on the best way to facilitate constructive feedback sessions, check out this post.
How do you prepare a remote Sfeedback session?
In my experience, Sfeedback works well with more than five people, so each pair can meet for 10 minutes and the whole session only takes an hour. Everyone should get enough time beforehand to prepare feedback for all participants, as they will meet with each person individually throughout the course of the session.
When I prepare for the session, I try to make the process as easy as possible. Until recently, I had never done this virtually, so I put more effort into preparing the session to ensure it went smoothly.
1) The first step is to hold a meeting where you’ll introduce Sfeedback to your team. Tell them what to expect in the session, how they’ll need to prepare, and importantly, why you want to do this exercise. Let them know how it will benefit the team.
2) Set the date for the Sfeedback session at least one week ahead of sending out calendar invites. Create the invites and get a headcount of how many people can join so you can start pairing people up.
3) Add the total number of pairs and calculate the time each pair can spend in each session. Make sure to consider transition time.
4) Create a Sfeedback table that represents the sessions and the pairs.
To reduce confusion (for myself), I create a table like the one above so that I can mentally simulate the session. When you set the pairs, try to leave one person in the same room so that fewer people are moving around. I also gave a one minute buffer for people to join the next call.
5) Create Zoom links for the event. Make sure the Zoom settings allow people to join without a host. This step can be optional but I found it saves hassle and time for the participants.
6) Create an individual’s schedule to share with them via Slack or email. Also send them an outline of how to prepare for the session (see below).
7) At the end of the session, bring all participants together in the same Zoom room and ask for their overall feelings on the exercise. Recommend they set up 1:1s to follow-up on any important feedback they didn’t get to finish.
How do you participate in a Sfeedback session?
Understanding how to participate in a Sfeedback session is just as important as organizing one! Prior to the session, send out these instructions to your team so they know how to prepare.
1) Make sure to prepare thoughtful feedback for your partners, as they will do the same for you. For example, “you are awesome,” while often true, is not useful feedback. Put more thought into why you feel that your partner is awesome and share that with them. It’s important to show that you care about your teammate’s growth and you appreciate working with them. This is a chance to encourage others and remind them how important they are to the team.
2) Try to respect the time window as much as possible. Delivering your prepared feedback quickly and jumping into the next call is part of the fun. If you do not go over all the feedback you prepared, schedule a separate 1:1 to wrap up.
3) Please save constructive feedback for another 1:1 session. This post covers some best practices for facilitating and participating in constructive feedback sessions.
4) Lastly, enjoy the session! There is as much value in the team bonding of this event as there is in the feedback.
What should you avoid during a Sfeedback session?
Again, Sfeedback is not for sharing constructive feedback. Each Sfeedback session is about 5 to 10 minutes and constructive feedback requires more time than that to avoid misunderstandings and to ensure effective feedback delivery. Using this session to introduce positive feedback to your teammates is more suitable.
Since introducing Sfeedback to my engineering team at CircleCI, I’ve seen many benefits, but I think the most exciting one is that my junior team members now feel more comfortable giving and receiving feedback. Some of them even specifically ask for constructive feedback on a regular basis. My team has enjoyed Sfeedback sessions so much that they’ve asked them to become a regular practice.