Go Give Someone Feedback

| 3 min read
#leadership #feedback #psychological-safety

What if I told you there was one small weekly behavior you could do to improve your career goals, increase psychological safety, make people like you more at work, and make you a slightly better person? That would be an oversimplification, but I don’t actually think it’s that far off the mark.

You should make a habit of giving someone positive, formal, written feedback. Make sure their manager sees it as well. I started doing this close to a year ago now, as a way to try to give back to my coworkers and I think on a personal and professional level. And I’ve just kept going because every time I do it, I feel more content with my job.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you have some sort of formal feedback tracking system that you can input. And if you’re not, you can send an email.

1. The Selfish Reason

Writing lots of feedback, I believe, is an important point of visibility in your favor. As you share feedback with managers, it spreads your influence, shows that you care about (and can speak to) company values, and puts you as someone they’re connected to in your head. It can be incredibly hard to get into “the conversation”, but sharing feedback is a reasonable, low effort way to put yourself in front of management without having to find “essential projects” or “sponsors”. It also creates a better relationship for you with the person you just had an interaction with, and it makes them more likely to give you feedback in the future.

2. The Altruistic Reason

This is definitely the coworker version of “tell your friends and family you love them”. There’s never been a point in my career where I’ve felt I was getting too much (positive or negative) feedback. It’s so easy to assume that because you enjoy working with your coworkers, that they know your positive feelings. They probably don't, and even if they do, you should take a few minutes to put it in writing. It's a good reminder, and helps them get visibility on their positive work with their managers.

Most feedback that gets shared, in my experience, is the big stuff. A project that went well, a raise, or a project that went poorly, or some big feedback about behavior that needed to be corrected. The small stuff, the clarifying, steadying stuff often goes unnoticed.

3. The Semi-altruistic Reason

If you’re at a large company, most feedback is going to come in waves at the one (or maybe two) performance cycles that happen on a yearly basis. If you’re only providing feedback at those times, it’s more likely that your feedback will be lumped in as a generic “positive”. When you share the feedback outside those times, it’s more likely the specifics get recognized and remembered. This means their manager will take note (a benefit to them) and your feedback will be remembered and acted on.

In Conclusion

A DALL-E rendering of a stained glass window of someone smiling at a letter A stained glass window of someone smiling at a letter

It takes about 5 minutes to do, just open up your email or Lattice or 15Five or ADP or whatever you use, find someone who you interacted with this week, and write them something. You’ll feel good and they’ll appreciate it. It’ll make your place of work the tiniest bit better, coworkers feel a bit more seen, and make you feel good.

So go do it. Open your tool of choice and drop someone a quick bit of positive feedback.