The Feedback Decision Tree

How to Give Feedback to Your Colleagues

Hey! Dan here. Brie Wolfson is back with a continuation of her series on work culture. Brie writes and researches about the ways great organizations coordinate and build culture. She draws from her past experiences being part of companies like Stripe, Figma and Google—as well as her work helping company leaders do the same at Kool-Aid. If you like this piece you should check out the previous piece in the series, Managing Your Manager.

I hope you enjoy the article!

The moment people come together in your organization to exchange ideas is a precious and high-stakes one. The quality of that interaction will dictate not only the quality of the work output but also the way the people in it feel getting the work done. 

It’s all hunky dory when the team’s on the same page; the work and high fives flow freely. But, as soon as someone perceives something’s going even a little bit off the rails, they face a conundrum: how to speak up in a way that makes the work and the team better. 

Many of the feedback frameworks I’ve encountered are helpful at 30,000 feet but fail to offer meaningful guidance where the rubber meets the road. And beyond that, deciding when and where to apply which framework usually requires a bit of mental gymnastics. Is “radical candor” the best approach with my very sensitive colleague, or will it send him into a tailspin that’s unproductive for everyone? Will my hard-headed colleague totally see through my “shit sandwich” approach and tune me out before I even get to the juicy stuff in the middle? When my work bestie shows up to a meeting grumpy, do I really need to say, “When you say x, I feel y,” or can I just ask him if he woke up on the wrong side of the bed today and bring him a coffee?

Delivering feedback about the tough stuff in a way that lands is tricky, but the upside of doing a good job of it is enormous. So, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get it right.

First, classify what’s happening and who’s involved.

What’s happening? 

Learn more

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