Feedback is a gift
Asking for feedback is a great way to help you grow professionally and personally
One of the best ways to grow as a software developer is by frequently asking for feedback from the people you work closely with. Feedback is a gift, don’t resist it.
Most companies have performance review cycles, however, these may only happen a few times in a year, depending on the cadence. You should aim to receive feedback more frequently than the performance review cycles. Feedback that is more immediate to your day-to-day work and actions is much better.
Do you find asking for feedback uncomfortable? It may be stressful if you are not used to it, but constant feedback is an eye-opener, it is definitely worth asking for it from people you work closely with.
In this article, you learn about how to ask for feedback effectively. This involves, what to get feedback about, whom you should ask for feedback, how to ask for feedback, and how to respond to feedback.
What to get feedback about
It is important to understand the different things you want to get feedback about. These will help you with identifying whom to ask for feedback and what questions to ask. As a software developer here are some things you should be getting feedback about:
Your technical ability: the code you write and the tools you use.
How you communicate: written and verbal.
Your participation in meetings.
How you present ideas and work.
How you collaborate with your team.
Getting better in each of these areas will help you become a more accomplished software developer.
Whom you should ask for feedback
The best people to ask for feedback from are people you work closely with. They have enough context about your work to give you valuable feedback. As a software developer here are the suggested people to ask for feedback:
Other software developers on your team.
Non-software developers, you work with frequently. Such as your team’s Product Owner, Designer, or Scrum Master.
This group of people will be able to give you valuable feedback from different perspectives.
How to ask for feedback
After identifying whom you should ask for feedback, your next step is to approach them and ask if they would be happy to give you some feedback. Let them know why you have chosen them and that their feedback will be useful and contextual information to support your growth.
Give the person you choose to provide your feedback some notice so they can think of concrete things to say.
Prepare good questions before your feedback session with each person. Try to keep your questions less generic. Ask more narrow questions. Ask short questions that directly address specific aspects of your work or behaviour. As an example, instead of asking “What can I do to become a better software developer?”, you should instead ask “What is one thing I can do differently to improve my backend coding?” or “What is one thing I can do to improve my presentation skills for software demos?”. This will help people give you feedback that is actionable and aligns with your career goals.
It is helpful to ask for feedback in context and promptly, it can make it easier for the person you've asked for feedback to recall specific behaviours and examples that can facilitate your learning.
Feedback doesn't always have to be in person, you can use a digital platform to ask for feedback from several people at once and then follow up in person if needed.
How to respond to feedback
Positive feedback is awesome, you learn that you are doing well at something.
The feedback you receive from people will not always be positive. Some of it will be constructive criticism. It is important that you do not get defensive as you are asking for honesty from the people that give you feedback.
Once you have received feedback from people you should make an effort to apply the learnings from the feedback to get better. Making changes based on the feedback you receive will help others to see that you are not only open to criticism but willing to adapt, to become a better developer.
Always show your appreciation when others spend time sharing their perspective and providing constructive insights. This also encourages people to give you more feedback in the future.
Asking for feedback is a great way to help you grow professionally and personally. The feedback you receive will help you to take more control of your career development and to get an accurate idea of what is expected of you.
Proactively asking for feedback will help you learn faster. Avoid relying only on company performance review cycles to receive feedback. Start asking your team for feedback today!