How to give effective feedback to your team

In my job as a service designer, I receive feedback all the time, even if I want it or not. Clients, PMs, developers, and other team members are always there to comment, and it’s not always the feedback we receive is given in the right way or at the right time. As a Hyper Island graduate, I have been through countless of sessions and lections on how to give feedback in the right way. This skill is priceless and has helped me in difficult situations at work, and on a personal level. In this short article, you will get some tips and methods on how to give effective feedback to your team 🥰

The “I-message” 👈🏽

The first thing I want to share is a model I learned at Hyper Island, The “I-message”. This method is a positive way to communicate how you feel. The concept of the I-message is to give feedback to a person expressing how you are feeling and what you would like to change or happen. The feedback should also focus on behavior that is changeable.

Let’s say you are in a situation where a colleague always borrows your charger without letting you know. Instead of saying “Stop stealing my charger all the time! Bring your own!”, you could use the I-message method and frame it like this: “ I feel frustrated when I can’t find my charger when I need it. I would appreciate if you could let me know when you have borrowed it or bring your own charger to work.”

By framing it with the I message, the receiver understands why you are frustrated and what he or she needs to do to make the situation better.

Give feedback at the right time 🕰

An important thing to think about when giving feedback is to give it at the right time. If you give feedback to someone on something they did three weeks ago, they might not remember the situation and it’s hard for them to understand why this is coming up now. And sometimes, when we are in the middle of the situation and you might be a bit heated up, you can say things that you don’t mean, or say them in a way that can be misunderstood.

A good tip is to take some time to reflect on the situation before giving feedback to someone. By doing this, you will have better insight into how the situation made you feel and had some time to think about how you should frame your feedback. My best advice is to take the time needed to reflect over the situation, and when you have framed your feedback, don’t wait too long to give it to the person.

Some final tips 👨🏽💬 👱🏼‍♀️

To end this article, I would like to share some simple guidelines on what to think about when giving feedback to others. The I-message might not always work in all situation, but there are some general guidelines that are nice to have in mind when giving feedback.

  1. Use “I …”, not “We …”.
    Don’t hide behind “We…”. The feedback you give is coming from you and the person receiving the feedback don’t know who “we” are. Therefore you should use “I …” when giving feedback.
  2. Be specific
    When you give your feedback be as specific as you can. What happened that made you feel like this? By being specific it will help the receiver to understand where the feedback is coming from.
  3. Offered not given
    Ask the person you are talking to if it’s okay that you can come with some feedback. We always want to change to become better, but sometimes we’re just not in the mood or in the mode to receive.
  4. Solution oriented
    Try to come with suggestions on what has to change to make it better. You can’t just say “The color doesn’t work”. Explain why it doesn't work and how can it become better.
  5. Question your intention
    Why are you giving the feedback? Is it necessary? What will you get out of it? Think a bit about why you are doing this and is really needed.

I work as a Service Designer in Norse, a digital product studio based in Oslo, Norway. We build meaningful products and companies from the ground up.