Andy Crouch - Code, Technology & Obfuscation ...

180-Degree Review Experiment - Part 2

Photo: Mimi Thian - Unsplash

Back in June, I published a post about an experiment I was trying with my team. I had asked them to complete the same review document that I complete with each of them every 3 months. I have now had all the responses and have been reviewing their thoughts.

It was an unexpected task for the whole team. I had a couple of people that completely embraced it and provided great feedback. Some of the team didn’t want to partake but I encourage them to. Some were afraid to leave anything negative. The interesting result was that engagement had nothing to do with seniority.

So what was the feedback? Here goes:

  • The team feel I generally manage them well. More than one of the team felt that I had their backs and would fairly manage issues and expectations.
  • The team is too agile. By this, I mean the true sense of the word and not concerning workflows. As a small team that is reacting to a business that is growing 100% year on year, priorities change. This makes some of the team feel under more pressure than they feel they should be.
  • My group communication style doesn’t work for everyone. This was interesting. In the past I have tried different approaches, meeting schedules and mediums. I have not succeeded in finding a good solution here.
  • My involvement in the wider business is seen as a distraction. I directly manage the team and have no team lead. This means that if I am distracted by financial or management tasks I might not be as available to the team as much.
  • They like the honest, opinionated, feedback I give. My approach to guiding team members to solutions goes down well. Certain team members warm to wider discussions about technology and stacks away from .Net. Others find that a distraction and they are not interested.
  • I could be franker. In certain situations, one of the team felt like my delivery could be more frank or direct.
  • My mood can impact that of the team. It was pointed out that when I am frustrated or distracted by non-team-related issues that I can impact the team.

So on the whole, not too much was fed back, some good and some area’s to work on:

  • I am glad they feel I have the teams best interests at heart. Having worked on teams where that hasn’t been the case I know the impact on productivity and morale it can cause. I see my role to enable the team and support them in delivery. This will only support the ongoing growth of the business and it realising it’s long term goals. This doesn’t mean I always side with the team, it means I find the best solution to an issue and communicate why that is the case. So far it looks like I am successful in this.
  • The team are right about the constant priority switching. This is something I have been aware of for some time. This is the natural growing pains of any company but it is having an impact. Our development process is going through a significant review due to new team members joining in September. This is going to be implemented using a tool to make the roadmap and the Product development open to the whole company. I hope that this will enable more honest conversations with the business over priorities. It will also allow them to appreciate the time it takes to deliver a feature.
  • The points made about my mood and the impact of the non-technical focused part of my role were the most noteworthy to me. I am going to carve out specific time in my calendar to address team and core development issues and the rest of my responsibilities. This will allow me to communicate my focus throughout a week better to the team. I am also going to be a lot more mindful of my delivery and interactions when dealing with issues to limit any negativity I might be letting off. I feel I might benefit from some coaching around compartmentalisation and this is something I will look into.

This is the first time that I have asked the team to do this. I will be pushing the process forward. I will be asking them to do it again in 3 months and every three months thereafter. I hope that as they become more used to the process the feedback will come easier for them to give and be more useful to me. While no earth-shattering feedback was received this time around I can see the long term benefit. While it made me feel very uncomfortable waiting for the responses I suggest you try this with your teams and see if you find it beneficial.

If you have any comments around this post then please contact me via twitter or email.