Dinner is served and every team member is invited!
Last week I wrote about The Power of Appreciation Among Teams where I briefly mentioned what Feedback is and how we could encourage everyone to offer instant acknowledgment feedback using Kudo Cards.
In this article, I’ll present Feedback Wrap, another powerful practice by Management 3.0, on how to facilitate a team’s retrospective where everyone can share their opinions honestly and constructively.
If you’re following this article series, there is no need to tell you that a ready-to-go Mural template comes as part of the combo.
Goodbye Sandwich, Welcome Wrap
Feedback Wrap invites us to focus on offering conscious, honest, actionable, and constructive feedback among team members. It emphasizes the importance of putting things in context, and provides a 5 steps template to give successful feedback: 1. Describe your context, 2. List your observations, 3. Express your emotions, 4. Sort by value, and 5. End with suggestions.
Say goodbye to old-fashioned sandwich feedback — ”positive-negative-positive” remarks — and welcome this powerful and up-to-date “wrap” approach.
Why Feedback Wrap
In every organization, everyone periodically mentions the word feedback, but how many know what feedback is and how to make the most out of it?
From the Business Coach’s perspective, feedback is a powerful phenomenon that impacts on several human dimensions: emotional, relational, personal concerns, and professional goals.
For that reason, team leaders, coaches, and managers must create a shared understanding among team members before starting a feedback session.
Feedback Wrap can help us there by providing a 5 steps template that we can follow to have everybody on the same page.
I usually use this practice as part of a retrospective session when I observe the team giving signals of going through the storming stage — inspired by Tuckman’s stages of group development.
How to Use Feedback Wraps in a Retrospective Session
If you’re new to retrospectives facilitations I strongly recommend the book “Agile Retrospectives“ which suggests that these important sessions should be designed in 5 phases: 1. Set the stage, 2. Gather data, 3. Generate insights, 4. Decide what to do, and 5. Close the retro.
As we improve our facilitation skills we will be able to highlight or spend more time on some of the stages if we think that aligns with the session’s goal.
For this retrospective design, I decided to accentuate the “set the stage” phase to reach a common understanding of feedback and explain how to make feedback wraps. I also decided to merge the “insights generation” and decide what to do in one phase.
1. Set the stage
The retro starts with an easy and revealing icebreaker where we invite everybody to place an image that represents how they feel.
This is also a great activity to onboard new people to Mural because we can show them how to look for images using the mural toolbar.
Optionally, we can ask participants to provide some context for the image they chose in case they are too abstract, or the people don’t know each other well.
Right after the icebreaker, the facilitator presents the retrospective goal.
Next, the facilitator might have people infer the approach to feedback they would be using in the session or tell everyone straight on. The most important points are:
- Feedback is an opinion, so it’s not a fact (true/false).
- There are two types of feedback: acknowledgment feedback — i.e. kudos of appreciation — and constructive feedback — i.e. anything it can be improved.
- Before giving feedback offer it — and wait for acceptance.
- Feedback should focus on actions, not on the individual — i.e. what you did makes me rework.
After that, before continuing with the rest of the retro, the facilitator will ask everyone if they’d like to give and receive feedback — consistent with the definition previously discussed.
If someone answers “no”, they are allowed to leave this retrospective, and optionally the facilitator can contact them for support after the retro.
So, after having everyone’s acceptance, the facilitator will tell the participants how to make the feedback wraps as described in the five steps below:
- Describe your context: super important to help the other person to understand your point of view.
- List your observations: offering some facts in a nonjudgmental way to stand your feedback.
- Express your emotions: even if they don’t have a vast emotional language they should express how it makes them feel.
- Sort by value: explaining what is important and what is valuable for you.
- End with suggestions: 1 or 2 things that the other person can try to do differently.
2. Gather data
Now it’s time to invite everyone to make their Feedback Wraps. The template includes cards with the five steps so the participants can use one per person they want to give feedback to.
They can give as much feedback as they want in a time-boxed period that the facilitator set before the start of the activity.
The facilitator will have to prepare in advance the “dinner” area with one plate per person in the retro.
Remember that if someone doesn’t attend the retrospective are not allowed to receive feedback wraps — so I recommend that you remove the extra plates in that case.
3. Generate insights and 4. Decide what to do
I decided to merge these two phases into one to give people time to reflect on the feedback received and then express whether they would want to do something differently from that moment on.
In this phase, it is allowed to ask clarifying questions to understand feedback better. The facilitator should avoid defensive comments or explanations at this point.
The following questions can be useful to guide the reflection and should not be answered aloud:
- What are the most significant feedbacks received? Why?
- What do you need to ask or offer to improve your role?
- What opportunities for improvement have you takeaway?
- How do you think this feedback will impact your teamwork?
- What do you commit to doing differently as of now?
Before moving into the next phase, the facilitator can ask everyone if they want to share their commitments with the group. Optionally, the facilitator can ask the team how satisfied they are with what they heard from others.
5. Close the retrospective
The facilitator should reserve at least 10 minutes for this part everyone will be invited to share their acknowledgment feedback with others, even with the team, using Kudo Cards. If you missed out on my previous article I strongly recommend that you take a look at it to get familiar with Kudo Box & Kudo Cards.
Leading by example, the facilitator should also give some kudos to each participant and the whole team.
Get the ready-to-go MURAL template to start sharing Feedback Wraps with your teammates!
My learnings as a facilitator
I recommend this facilitation to a mid-high experienced facilitator because I think it is crucial to have the ability to help the team reach a common understanding of feedback. It is also very important to have the necessary facilitation skills to set a context of respect, inclusion, and psychological safety with clear boundaries and rules.
I used this template several times with great results, even with remote teams and with an intercultural audience where the language barrier might be something the facilitator should be mindful of.
If you don’t know very well how this activity can be received I suggest that you choose “whole team feedback” instead of “personal feedback”. This can be a safe place to start with teams that have never done this kind of activity together before.
It could be the first of a series of feedback sessions if you see there is still more constructive feedback to be given.
I invite you to try it and see how Feedback Wrap works for you.
I advise you to put it into practice today so that you can improve it on the go.
Finally, remember all teams are different and this keeps us facilitators on our toes!
I would love to hear how these ideas worked for you, so please share your experiences with me to help me improve this practice.
Good luck with your digital facilitations!