Leading Feedback on Group Projects
Regular feedback with the whole group on the topic of how to improve a group project is good for many reasons. The obvious one is solutions. Group feedback helps everyone tap into the best ideas on how to get better results. Even one 20-30 minute discussion can surface some actions that make a huge difference toward meeting your shared goals.
But, even more powerful than specific solutions: The feedback habit! A little practice with feedback in the group setting helps build the feedback habit. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Leading some simple feedback activities has the great effect of building a feedback culture—getting people used to giving and receiving feedback, overcoming their fear and avoidance of it, and actually doing it more often as an everyday work habit.
If you are leading remotely, and most of you are these days, schedule 15-30 minutes in your group videoconference for brainstorming, discussing, and choosing a few improvements that will benefit the group’s progress on a specific project. For your first meeting of this type, consider scheduling a little more time. Make sure they understand you’ll be considering actions that several people (not just one person) can take and the team will need to stick to areas in the group’s control.
Get off to a great start Kicking off your new group feedback practice successfully is more about what not to do, than about a detailed list steps to follow. Keep your expectations simple and don’t expect brilliant solutions in the first few feedback sessions. Feedback that begets more and better feedback next time is your goal. Don’t discourage anyone; welcome all ideas and praise their flow of ideas. Don’t depend on your most expert and knowledgeable team members to provide most of the solutions. Get everyone excited about making contributions.
The 3-part process Choose a particular project or goal and allocate time for each part of the process:
Brainstorm a list of areas in need of improvement. Encourage involvement by all and call on people if they don’t jump in. Record all input on a shared screen or group tool. And insist that they don’t comment on others’ input at this stage. This is the fastest step and you can get great ideas in 5 minutes if you set a clock.
Discuss the ideas in the team and welcome questions, opinions, and the best criteria the team needs to consider for this session (e.g. most cost effective, most impact on customer satisfaction, etc.) You will need to manage time effectively by limiting the scope of the conversation or creating breakout groups to work on particular aspects of the topic, etc.
Select one or more items that will give the biggest payoff and at the same time are doable by the people involved. Make sure assignments are made and hopefully everyone takes away something they can do to help with the improvements.
Just do it! Although there are many details we could include here, the key point is to simply get it started! Repeat next week or next month and always review how well the feedback was implemented to improve the team’s shared work.