At Blendle, we’ve all been quite busy working on giving and receiving feedback as part of out bi-annual feedback process. Turns out, writing these things is pretty hard. At the same time, it is so helpful to actually write down the things you appreciate and the things you believe are parts someone else can improve on.

It works like this: you gather feedback from your team lead and two of your peers. In a 45 minute session, we talk about the things you learned from all the feedback. After the meeting, you come up with your own set of goals (I’m doing quarterly, some set them up for 6 months). The feedback you gathered before gives plenty of input for the feedback sessions.

I learned a couple of things along the way:

  • Schedule plenty of time to write your review. If you want to give good feedback, you’ll going to need the time. Schedule blocks of time in your calendar in advance.
  • Begin with the end in mind. Before I’m starting to write my reviews, I’m trying to thing about the bigger message I’d like to deliver. This is hard work, and this is something I’m still learning, but by beginning with the two or three most important points, you can focus all your writing on this instead of being all over the place. This even means leaving out some parts of feedback that you think is less important than your focus points.
  • Always schedule a review of your review. Before sending out your review, leave it for at least one day and take a look at it again. You’ll find that there are always a couple of things you can write down less harsh. Some other points will need a couple of extra examples to make them really clear.
  • Start taking more notes. Writing a review is so much easier when you write down the things you notice in the months leading up to the review. In a lot of cases I could have written a much better review if I had tracked down those examples better.

Writing reviews is really tough. In the first complex situation you have a couple of negative things you need to communicate in the review. This version is difficult, because you need to think long and hard on how to deliver them. The second difficult review is when you have a hard time coming up with good feedback. The easy route is to just say “I can’t think of any improvements here”. This is a quick way out, but definitely not a helpful one for the person you’re giving your feedback to. Notes are invaluable here, but you can also use things like this executive skills list to come up with ideas.