Address

Author Topic: How to give good technical feedback?  (Read 3218 times)

digitalman2112

  • Lab Dad (ex-treasurer)
  • FamiLAB Member
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1096
  • Work Hard, Play Hard!
    • View Profile
    • Raising Geeks
How to give good technical feedback?
« on: December 09, 2013, 01:56:03 PM »
Looking for some resources on giving technical (design / implementation) feedback to others - you know, when they've designed / built something, but you know there is a better way - how do you give that feedback without making the other person feel bad, get defensive, etc?


Looking for your input, links to how-to articles, even a good story of how or how not to.


Thanks!!



digitalman2112

  • Lab Dad (ex-treasurer)
  • FamiLAB Member
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1096
  • Work Hard, Play Hard!
    • View Profile
    • Raising Geeks
Re: How to give good technical feedback?
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2013, 02:27:32 PM »
Someone shared this humorous (and very on-topic) link with me in a hangout - http://io9.com/why-you-think-youre-better-than-everyone-else-1479390165

darkmoonsinger

  • Treasurer
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 732
  • I am no one but all that I am.
    • View Profile
Re: How to give good technical feedback?
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2013, 04:32:58 PM »
I'm not sure how to advise you other than the most obvious of statements ("don't tell them they suck", "don't be super-direct about it", "don't take over the design process", "use what-ifs and how-abouts", "don't attack their knowledge base", etc.), but I'm that person who frequently needs to be gently spoken to during criticism. So if you need practice, I have low self-esteem. *g*

digitalman2112

  • Lab Dad (ex-treasurer)
  • FamiLAB Member
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1096
  • Work Hard, Play Hard!
    • View Profile
    • Raising Geeks
Re: How to give good technical feedback?
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2013, 05:16:36 PM »
"use what-ifs and how-abouts"

I like that.

(Posing this question to all...)
Any other good words that still allow directness, but without harshness?

P47

  • FamiLAB Member
  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 241
    • View Profile
Re: How to give good technical feedback?
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2013, 06:43:35 PM »
Tell them it looks great, awesome work, but maybe you might want to do this part a little different.
In essence build them up with some constructive criticism, and after you've built them up, then make you suggestion.

"This is an age old secret and it has worked on me many times, and still does"

~P47
« Last Edit: December 09, 2013, 08:20:24 PM by P47 »

darkmoonsinger

  • Treasurer
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 732
  • I am no one but all that I am.
    • View Profile
Re: How to give good technical feedback?
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2013, 08:17:37 PM »
"Have you ever considered <foo>?" or "Y'know, I read about <bar> in <some cool publication>; why don't we try that?"  You can also include yourself in the suggestion, depending on the situation- "we could always try <thingie>" or "if we did <xyzzy>, <baz> might go better".

And/or, if there's a partly-finished design, lead them the rest of the way with leading questions that bring them around to your point.

Ooh, another favourite is slightly knocking yourself; I use that one on students- "I know when I did <wibble> it bit me; lemme show you how not to do the same thing I did".

ki4swy

  • FamiLAB Member
  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 213
  • skill mad scientist
    • View Profile
Re: How to give good technical feedback?
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2013, 08:56:50 PM »
as a former developer & system architect.. and now a director of information technology...


never tell them there idea sucks
never tell them there idea won't work.
never say no.


1: agree there needs to be something done to fix a problem.
2: agree they have a pretty good idea, make sure you praise the good points of it.
3: offer solutions or alternate methods for the bad parts of there solution.
4: have people to agree with both parties...
5: never make it appear your attacking them..
6: work with them to fix the ideas that suck.. don't tell them they suck, and not offer a solution.. if you can't come up with a solution yourself, then your solution sucks even more, because it doesn't work at all.

+1 to items said above, using words such as "how about, could we do it this way, or have you thought of doing it this way"
"Good engineers keep thick authoritative books on their shelf. Not for their own reference, but to throw at people who ask stupid questions. Hoping a small fragment of knowledge will osmotically transfer with each cranial impact." - eeguru

If it runs on electricity, i have it :)

Cr4ck3r

  • FamiLAB Member
  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 47
  • Minister of Propaganda
    • View Profile
Re: How to give good technical feedback?
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2013, 10:26:15 PM »

Give them a compliment sandwich.

http://youtu.be/ewIT_KAQQlU

bethjaneway

  • FamiLAB Member
  • Sr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 331
    • View Profile
Re: How to give good technical feedback?
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2013, 11:22:32 PM »
Maybe make a demo of something that might work better. If it's good enough, it should speak for itself.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2013, 11:27:48 AM by bethjaneway »
Note: To improve mood, administer chocolate.

Simply7

  • FamiLAB Member
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 547
    • View Profile
Re: How to give good technical feedback?
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2013, 09:01:50 AM »
Always give congrats/praise on building X, not many people build things nowadays.  Ask them if they are happy with the design.  Ask them what changes they would make if they had to do it all again. (there is always a ver 2 - for me anyway). I've always found when you listen to others explain a design, they somtimes know the issues and if not they are more  likely to be open to suggestions.

willasaywhat

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 985
    • View Profile
Re: How to give good technical feedback?
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2013, 10:02:00 AM »
It also depends on the person. There are some folks who can't take a hint, there are those who can read between the lines and appreciate the sensitivity, and there are others who simply won't listen to what you are saying unless you bring data. I'm a fan of starting with what ifs and how abouts, and failing that, moving to a more direct approach. The latter is no fun, and usually ends with someone getting hurt, but with *exceptional* techies who know they aren't always right there can be little to no collateral damage.


With some people who do feel they know better than anyone else it can be easier to appeal to that narcissism expertise. Give them the floor to speak, listen, and then chime in with the how abouts and what ifs. Build that ethos, pathos, logos squishy stuff before you go and poke at their vulnerable spots.


If it can wait, be gentle and coach as needed. If there is imminent danger, then be direct.


It just depends.

bentruck

  • FamiLAB Member
  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 119
    • View Profile
Re: How to give good technical feedback?
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2013, 02:42:10 AM »
I find loud screaming and chest pounding to be effective communication techniques. Go simian  8)
yes.

digitalman2112

  • Lab Dad (ex-treasurer)
  • FamiLAB Member
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1096
  • Work Hard, Play Hard!
    • View Profile
    • Raising Geeks
Re: How to give good technical feedback?
« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2013, 06:56:52 AM »
Great input (other than the simian technique).

Something I'm pondering...Do we sometimes give the best feedback to strangers, good feedback to coworkers, and terrible feedback to friends?

I suspect the more we know people, the more we joke and kid with them, and then unknowingly we hurt them because we don't follow the tactics suggested above.

Do you find this to be true?

ki4swy

  • FamiLAB Member
  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 213
  • skill mad scientist
    • View Profile
Re: How to give good technical feedback?
« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2013, 07:58:24 AM »
i am bluntly lacking tact to everyone.

unless your a young adult, then i try to avoid making them cry...

however, people i trust i will generally listen to there idea more, and try to see it in there eyes...
"Good engineers keep thick authoritative books on their shelf. Not for their own reference, but to throw at people who ask stupid questions. Hoping a small fragment of knowledge will osmotically transfer with each cranial impact." - eeguru

If it runs on electricity, i have it :)

darkmoonsinger

  • Treasurer
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 732
  • I am no one but all that I am.
    • View Profile
Re: How to give good technical feedback?
« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2013, 08:17:57 AM »
I would agree, Ian, in the general case. For myself, I will say blunter/truer things in giving feedback to strangers/co-workers than I will to people I care for, to a certain point. However, as my closest friends will attest, when the subject is something I'm trying to *teach* a close friend, or something I get particularly excited about, the feedback filters go off and the pedagogy goes on - I'm genuinely super-interested in their personal/professional development.  That's me, though, and in specific cases.