At my last job, my boss told me I had the knack of “Stepping on someone’s toes without scuffing their shoes.” I didn’t understand that at the time, but eventually, it sank in. I’d learned the art of giving feedback without being offensive.
As a Tech Lead and Software Manager, that skill proved to be one of my greatest assets.
When I could give clear feedback to developers well, beautiful things happened such as…
1. When I pointed out problems, people fixed their mistakes. This made them feel good and showed me I could trust the team.
2. I stopped having the urge to jump-in-and-make-a-fix-because-it-would-be-quicker-than-explaining-it.
3. I trusted my team more and spent less time feeling secretly frustrated. The deep frustration turned into outward, precise corrections, which prevented resentment from building up.
4. My team trusted me because they knew I wasn’t holding on to problems, waiting for them to screw up just one more time and fire them.
5. My team started to relax, knowing that mistakes were expected, and would be met with correction. No longer did they worry I was secretly keeping a list of errors, which I would use to justify firing them.
6. Annual evaluations became easier because all the corrective feedback had been given at the moment. This freed us to collaborate on goals, training, career paths and exciting ways to improve our team.
7. Turnover went down because people developed loyalty to me.
Learning to give timely, specific feedback well is an essential skill of being a great tech leader. Do you see the benefits of it?