How to give constructive feedback to developers and make sure that you will be heard?
Open and respectful communication between developers is key to a successful project. But here we are talking not only about general principles of ethics and politeness. Efficient interaction presupposes a well-built dialogue where both parties are ready to share and receive objective feedback.
During the years of our work in the software development industry and cooperating with hundreds of different people, we’ve fully realized the value of high-quality feedback and its role in the project realization (especially, at the first stages). And now, we are ready to share our insights and explain what good feedback should look like.
Role of feedback
We strongly believe that communication is of crucial importance especially when you work with developers in the framework of outstaffing or outsourcing models. In this case, they need to dive deep into the specificity of your business and your project in a limited period of time. And when you start cooperation, your feedback will perform the role of a guiding star.
The goal of well-formulated feedback is not to offend somebody or to discourage a person but to implement the required changes into the development process in order to ensure the highest quality of the software product.
According to various surveys, around 75% of respondents believe that feedback is important. A lot of people also highlight that any feedback (even negative) is always better than no feedback at all.
Positive comments help developers to understand their strong sides and feel that their efforts are appreciated. Such feedback can be used as a motivational tool and a booster for people’s confidence in their forces.
Negative feedback is also required but here it is crucial to make it constructive. Constructive feedback is aimed at helping developers to find options to do better, while critical comments can only show that the team is doing wrong.
Let’s briefly summarize the key functions of feedback in your cooperation with software developers:
- It helps you to make sure that you and the developers who work on your project are on the same page. Your developers should know what you expect from them. And that’s exactly what feedback is used for.
- Feedback can motivate people to perform better and let them know that their contribution is valued.
- Regular feedback is a good way to support close communication during the project realization.
- Feedback can be helpful for improving performance and adjusting the development process to the needs and expectations of a client.
- It is a good tool for continuous learning. And it works in two directions. While developers can better understand the business needs and ongoing market conditions, clients can find out a lot of important points related to tech aspects.
Constructive feedback: Practical tips
There are a couple of things that everyone, regardless of his or her position at the company, should know about giving feedback.
- Your comments should be related not to a person but only to the results, situation, or invested efforts or time. You shouldn’t go personal. That’s a road to nowhere. You can easily offend a person without reaching any results that you want to achieve with your feedback.
- Feedback can be (and should be) given as often as it is required for encouraging positive changes. In some cases, once a year is a sufficient periodicity while in others, it is okay to provide constructive feedback every hour.
- Your feedback can be either positive or negative. And these both types are equally important.
- Everyone who has constructive ideas to share should be offered the possibility to voice his or her thoughts.
- The key goal of providing feedback is to allow the other party to develop new skills, gain new knowledge, and introduce changes to the product (or feature) for the common good.
- You shouldn’t forget about the general tone of your feedback. It should be appreciative, polite, and respectful. Avoid sarcasm and judgemental expressions.
- Answering questions shouldn’t be taken as giving feedback. It is just sharing the required information.
- It is also recommended to offer your own solution. When you see some issues, you can draw the attention of your developers to them. And it will be also great if you can share your own ideas on how to improve the situation. Even if your solution isn’t fully implemented, it may push your team to a new efficient way to overcome the existing problems.
Efficient communication is a happy-happy game
Constructive and regular feedback is important for both developers and clients. Thanks to voicing their opinions clients can make sure that the project realization is moving in the right direction. At the same time, developers can get valuable insights that will help them to better understand what their client expects to get.
But you, as a client, should be also open to listening to the opinion of your development team. Very often experts, thanks to their deep understanding of the industry trends and capabilities of different technologies, can offer valuable recommendations that will help to enhance your project and final solution.
At Softacom, we highly appreciate when our clients share their constructive feedback with us. It helps us to deliver top-notch solutions fully tailored to their business needs. We are always open to dialogue and are ready to listen to the client’s vision. And at the same time, we also provide our thoughts and concerns after a detailed analysis of the project requirements.
We believe that this approach is one of the core components of our success in the market. And it’s pleasant to see that our customers are ready to follow these principles in our cooperation.