January 21, 2020   |   4min read

All You Need to Know About Feedback Culture at Polidea

Everyone feels that feedback is an important part of teamwork, especially in a very dynamic field of software development. However, it’s hard to deliver good feedback. It requires consistency, high frequency, and complete honesty. Also, there’s no such thing as valuable feedback from someone you don’t trust, so it requires building candid and real relations with people. At Polidea, we value honest and constructive criticism as it helps us grow and evolve as an organization. So we decided to present you some insight into our feedback culture.

As I mentioned above, giving and receiving feedback is not an easy task. But we’ve learned (and studies confirm this) that withholding negative feedback is only protecting the person giving it, and is strongly linked to low self-esteem.

Considering our strive for constant growth, we believe that this process is crucial for our organization for 3 main reasons:

It improves performance—good performance requires both specific goals and specific feedback. It strengthens team engagement. Honesty and Trust are our core values.

Our story

As our company grew, we have realized that feedback is essential, and we want to build a feedback culture at Polidea. We also experienced that almost everyone loves receiving feedback, but hates giving it.

A year and a half ago, we’ve invited an external consultant to run a workshop for us where we learned and practiced giving and receiving feedback. It was so helpful that it became standard practice—we repeat the training for all new employees and for those who want to refresh their knowledge and motivation.

It was just the beginning of a journey to improve our communication skills. We learned a lot about the importance of attitude and mindset of effective feedback, such as e.g., simple fact that positive feedback should praise effort, not the ability (see more here: Building a Feedback-Rich Culture). We have also learned many different techniques like Start, Stop, Continue, or DESC. I proudly believe that today we could run such training programs ourselves.

Still, we knew that knowledge isn’t enough. The consistent and regular practice is a crucial part of success.


Our routines

I’ve already mentioned that we repeatedly host workshops where we learn about effective feedback techniques. But the culture of feedback is much more than this. Our goal is to create an environment so safe and candid that we can give ad hoc, constructive (also negative) feedback to each other without any hesitation. Such feedback is very specific and empathetic, based on mutual trust and good intentions.

To achieve this goal, we stimulate regular feedback between employees at many levels. First and foremost, every project team is encouraged to schedule regular feedback sessions between team members. Project Managers are there to help and make sure those meetings take place.

Then we seek feedback and ask for it whenever there’s an opportunity like project demo, internal meetup presentation, and some workshops we participate in. Thirdly, our PMs and leaders are obliged to give feedback regularly and proactively.

Even though horizontal feedback is important, we encourage vertical feedback as well. It builds trust and good relations among team members, plus the more you ask for feedback, the more effective you are as a leader. We all want to excel in our jobs, we proactively ask for opinions and comments from our team, even if they’re not expressed the ideal way and might seem a bit harsh at first.

As Peter Drucker said: “If something cannot be measured, it cannot be managed,” and we couldn’t agree more. That’s why at Polidea, we aim to track the history and the frequency of our feedback meetings. We also use a great tool, OfficeVibe, to monitor the engagement, and one of the factors influencing this score is a metric called Feedback.

Practice makes perfect

Even though we can be proud of our efforts, I have to admit that building a feedback culture is not an easy task and can be a struggle. As humans, we tend to avoid difficult interactions despite the fact that they can benefit us a lot. The more practice we have, the more confident we get. And as we get more confident, we learn to value and crave real, negative, and constructive feedback. Because the truth is that it makes us better at what we do for our clients. And this is what we aim for at Polidea.

If working in an environment of feedback culture is for you, check out our open positions.

Additional sources:

  1. Giving Feedback Is Hard. Really Hard - Redbubble - Medium
  2. Who Are You Protecting When You Praise a Dud Performance? – Research Digest
  3. Your Employees Want the Negative Feedback You Hate to Give - Harvard Business Review
  4. Consequences of Individual Feedback on Behavior in Organizations - ResearchGate
  5. The Best Gift Leaders Can Give: Honest Feedback - Forbes

Maciej Oczko


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