Ludvig Wadenstein
Ludvig Wadenstein
Engineering Manager
Apr 14, 2021 3 min read

The best feedback I have ever received

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Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

The best feedback I have ever received was from my team. It was a full page of both things I did well, and areas I could improve on. The feedback was specific, actionable and the whole team was agreeing on it. A real gift for someone that want’s to grow in their role.

So how did I get such good feedback from my team? I think the answer is twofold, a feedback exercise, and trust. For this to work, there must be trust between you as a manager and the team that you manage. Trust that the feedback will be taken the right way, that something will come out of it, and most importantly, trust and that they can say what they really think.

Building trust with your team will perhaps be the topic of another article, but I will go into detail about the feedback exercise we did. I learned of this exercise from a course with Ledarskapscentrum and have done it a few times with my team, always with great results.

I booked about an hour with the whole team in a conference room for the feedback activity and had them bring something to write on. I began by telling the team we were going to do an exercise where they can give me feedback as a group. As some context, I also told them what my goals as a leader were, what kind of leader I wanted to be for them. This is to help them give feedback that will help you become more of the leader you want to be.

Next, I described the actual exercise. I will leave the room, and they will discuss what I do well, and where I need to improve. One in the group will take notes and write down the things they agree on. I pointed out that I don’t want to know who said what, I want honest feedback from the whole group. I told them to take as much time as they needed, and to call me back and present what they had come up with when they were done.

The first time I did this I paced around the office aimlessly while waiting. I felt vulnerable, knowing that they were discussing my performance. After a very long 30 minutes, they called me back. It was a relief to finally hear what they had discussed. After they were done I thanked them and asked them to share the notes with me so I could look back at them later.

When the group shares what they have discussed, it’s important not to argue with what they are saying, just receive and thank them. Ask questions if you don’t understand what they mean, but be careful not to question their observations. It’s normal to want to explain away critique, but instead, try to take it in.

Ask them to share what they have written so you can refer back to it later. And most importantly, make sure to learn from what they have said. As the whole group agrees on the feedback, they are probably right.

So there you have it, how I got the best feedback I have ever received. Quite amazing how such a simple activity can yield such great results.

Ludvig Wadenstein

I'm Ludvig

As a leader, I favor transparency and collaboration, often involving my teammates in figuring out the best way forward. It’s important for me to build trust and to work long term. I want to build bridges and increase collaboration between teams.

You can find me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter.