Managers have quite a lot of information about the performance of their directs. However, even though a manager's view is an important piece of the puzzle, it certainly does not provide a complete picture of where that individual stands. Managers often rely on feedback from an individual's teammates and cross-functional partners to come up with a more comprehensive assessment, which can then be used when coaching the individual.

As discussed here, collecting 360 feedback is a critical component of the Performance Management Process. Feedback should be collected throughout the year on a weekly  basis. It is powerful for someone to submit their feedback when they see that their colleague has done an excellent job and should be recognized. Avoiding recency bias is another big benefit of collecting feedback continuously, instead of only once or twice a year.

Balance

Giving Effective Feedback

To ensure that your feedback is effective, it is important to keep the following concepts in mind when either providing or requesting it:

  • Care personally. You should be writing feedback for someone because you want to help that individual improve in a particular area, or you want to let that person know that they have done an excellent job. The feedback will likely not be well-received if the reviewer does not provide it with good intentions.
  • Be specific. If you are acknowledging work well-done, don't just say, "You did awesome with project X". Describe the situation, describe what the individual did to move things in the right direction, and explain the individual's impact. The same thing goes for feedback for improvement. Thinking through the details increases the chances that the feedback will be taken seriously and will be found to be useful. This framework is called SBI (Situation, Behavior and Impact).
  • Be Flexible. Be prepared to change your mind. Sometimes we don't have the complete picture of a given situation.

Who do you ask for feedback?

  • Teammates with whom this person works closely
  • Cross-functional partners with whom this person works closely
  • Yourself (the manager)

How many people should you ask to provide feedback?

Usually asking 3-5 people to provide feedback should give a manager sufficient insight. If the individual is up for a promotion you should consider asking for feedback from around 6-8 people to ensure you are getting well-balanced and comprehensive feedback. Make sure you get feedback from your senior engineers.

When to share feedback?

You should share the feedback with your directs when things are fresh in their minds. There might be some cases when you need to have an ad-hoc conversation as soon as you received the feedback but in most cases it is OK to wait a few days until your next scheduled 1:1.

Managers should not just rely on their views to get a complete assessment of their team members. They should collect feedback from people with whom the individual works closely. This ensures a manager gets a comprehensive 360 view of the strengths and weaknesses of the individual. To make sure team members are utilizing their strengths and improving their weaknesses, managers need specific feedback focused on individual growth.