Our culture is founded on feedback. We conduct regular trainings to help people overcome one of the hardest parts of feedback: giving constructive feedback in a way that strengthens and furthers a relationship. We focus on positive, specific feedback and constructive specific feedback separately. As much as we like to say, “You’re awesome!” we spend more time defining what awesome was in a certain context: “The way you delivered that talk taught me these two things. Thank you for being so clear and energetic!”. For constructive feedback, it’s never “You’re bad!” — instead, we say “Hey, when you did X, it had Y impact, and made me feel Z. I’d love to understand what you were feeling and figure out we can work better in the future.”
Managers are encouraged to give each of their direct reports feedback at least once every seven days and are held accountable for their ability to grow and develop their people’s careers. We push each other to challenge directly with kindness and in service of other’s learning. For example, if you go to your manager to complain about another person, your manager will listen, empathize, and help you digest the events that led to the complaint. Then they will ask, “Have you given this feedback to this person?”
A true desire to learn goes hand in hand with being open to feedback, and no one sets a better standard for this than our CEO, Brian Armstrong. Last year, Brian shared his 360 review to the entire company — Brian’s vulnerability and willingness to share his gaps as a CEO inspire the rest of us to give and receive feedback as a gift.
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You’ll observe how highly we prioritize feedback after spending just a few hours with us. Individual engineers commonly share their project plans in an open document with the entire company, inviting marketing, sales, and HR to contribute. Everyone can speak at length about what candor means to us and how important of a role it plays into how we operate. Even with ~40 engineers, our VP of Engineering (Sylvain) makes sure to meet with each person 1-on-1 to get feedback about how the company can better support your individual career goals. Despite being a distributed company, we promote a culture across all of our offices that values candor and feedback. If anything, having offices in both the U.S. and France makes us more mindful as we must recognize cultural nuances and cultural differences.
Frontend engineer Lucas explains, “Learning how to accept negative feedback is not always easy. It’s totally natural to take it personally when something you’ve worked hard on is criticized. I get attached to my code! But that’s why it’s important that candor is a company-wide value — I know I’m not being singled out. Ultimately, code is a communal project.”
We also have a team meeting every week which everyone should attend. Due to our varying time zones and where people are in the world, this rotates every three weeks: one week it’ll be early (before 09:00), one week it’ll be in the afternoon, and one week it’ll be late. This is so it’s equally terrible for everyone.
We schedule bi-weekly “pairing” sessions with every other member of the team, during which you can work on whatever you want: pair programming, code review, technical writing, discussion about coding styles, whatever. This is to get you to spend time with your teammates and build trust.
We also have weekly random 1:1's with some other team member. These are “water cooler” style chats where you spend 30 minutes talking about whatever you want to. Each week you’ll also have a 1:1 with your manager, and every two weeks you’ll have a 1:1 with the CIO, Derek.
We also have formal bi-annual review processes. We see this as dedicated time for you and your manager to reflect on all you’ve done! It’s also time set aside for you to plan exciting, interesting, and career growing opportunities for the next 6 months. This is not a time for surprises :).
The more you use it the stronger it gets. We train this muscle through our regular 360 feedback sessions, and finishing every meeting 5 minutes early to end with a feedback session on how the meeting went. Our founders and the senior team set the precedent early on, by constantly giving feedback. We genuinely want to help each other at Thread, so the expectation (and norm!) is that all feedback is delivered compassionately and with care. With frequent use, our Candour muscle is strong.
Continuously giving and receiving feedback is an effect of our collaborative spirit. We’re huge on Dropbox Paper and everything that we have on paper is shared openly with all members of the team so that anyone can comment or edit them. Obviously, aside from confidential HR material, anything that is physical through our paper files is shared. We have two separate engineering teams working on our two separate products. At the end of each sprint, we do thorough engineering retros where we crowd source feedback about what went well and what didn’t using an open, shared document. Our feedback extends beyond engineering and is embedded in how we operate as a company. At the end of our training sessions with our customers, we provide each transit agency with a thorough feedback survey. We truly integrate collecting feedback into everything we do, both internally but externally.
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As an engineer, you’ll be working very closely with our CTO, Kyle. Together, you’ll outline weekly and monthly goals and have 1on1’s every week to talk about how you’re feeling, what you need, and how he can help. You’ll also sit in the same working area, so it’s easy to get and give feedback. Beyond the engineering team, everyone at the company has a monthly 1on1 with Joe, the CEO. He always leads every meeting with, “How are you doing?” and at some point, he’ll ask, “How can we make things better?”
These 1:1’s are primarily led by you, rather than your manager. It’s a space for you to celebrate your successes, ask tough questions, and bring ideas forward. It can also be used as a place to get technical feedback, but also a great way to get to know your manager better. During the course of day-to-day development, your peers will be reviewing your code during our pull request feedback cycle: create the PR, pass our CI, two or more peers will review, and then merge and deploy. There are quarterly reviews that focus on the engineering rubric, and the developer’s career goals. This is an opportunity for you to work with your manager to decide how you want to learn and grow.
Everyone in the engineering organization participates in 360 feedback twice a year where each person requests feedback from a set of peers, their manager, and anyone that they manage. Before doing so, employees can participate in in-house training sessions designed to teach them how to separate feelings from facts in the workplace, to help remove any emotional bias and ensure feedback is as objective and actionable as possible.
In addition to our 360s, we also have retrospective meetings weekly on many teams, as well as after the completion of large projects and at the end of each quarter. We take this time to appreciate what went well during the week, project, or quarter, and to discuss what we can improve upon moving forward. These meetings reflect the team as a whole and never place blame on any one individual, and they give us the opportunity to continuously iterate on and improve our processes.
We are obsessed with the process and the love of learning. We make small mistakes and quickly learn to improve. Our design and development process is centered around 2 week sprints where we deploy rapidly, learn from our users, and continually iterate and improve. As a small team, time is everything to us - and we like to work efficiently and optimally.
We gather feedback from our clients, end users, and analytics tools and are focused on having researched business cases behind every decision we make.
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We are a small company. It allows us to set our goals and values together. From small things, like deciding to buy a roomba to clean our office, all the way to mission-critical aspects, such as planning our company’s roadmap. (at a workshop we organised in January)
We encourage continuous feedback on every level of our organisation -- from our newest employee to the CEO.
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We take feedback from our users through Intercom, Satismeter, and by meeting with them every week. People from our team regularly go and introduce new teachers to Peergrade at seminars, conferences and schedule meeting with instructors trying to implement Peergrade. We have monthly 1-on-1’s with everyone on the team and quarterly performance reviews. We try to have a very open feedback culture where everyone can bring up any request to anyone. The only way to avoid group-thinking is to really push each other’s ideas all the time. After each round of 1-on-1’s we change 2-3 things about the way we work on average, from better scheduling of holidays, new sprint structures to finding career mentors for employees.
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We all sit together which makes it easy to provide and solicit feedback. Open communication and collaboration comes so naturally to us that, at one point, we had to swing the pendulum back the other way and block time off for people to work independently. We have since found our sweet spot, and foster a culture of communication that is both open and respectful of everyone’s personal workload. We also have an all-hands (that segues into happy hour) every Friday. Each team shares updates, we ask our CEO questions about everything from fundraising to recruiting, and then collectively close our laptops, turn on music, and open some beers. Finally, at the basic and clinical level, we implement feedback with quarterly evaluations. With midpoint check-ins, you’ll receive feedback about your progress in reaching your OKRs and identify areas of improvement.
At Stitch Fix we receive feedback from our clients to help us transform the way people find what they love and feedback permeates into our work culture as well. From our monthly TINYPulse, to our self-driven, twice-yearly practice of collecting 360 degree feedback, we offer many ways to both give and receive feedback company-wide. As engineers, feedback is part of our daily practice. We create and review pull requests for every code change we make. We conduct regular retrospectives with our teams to identify what's working, call out what isn't, and suggest changes. We also hold weekly one on one meetings with our managers. We have many opportunities for feedback at Stitch Fix and we're always considering how we can work better together. We have also taken the time to outline our engineering principals, the who we are that makes us:
Of course, we still have a formal annual evaluation, but we don’t stop there. You will always be getting and giving feedback from your peers and supervisors. Every pull request is reviewed by senior team members and serves as both an excellent way to ensure quality and an opportunity to share knowledge. Code reviews help to surface the various approaches one can use and make it easy to exchange feedback on a daily basis with peers. Engineers also have ongoing one-on-one meetings with supervisors. We use Wrike, project management software, to make it incredibly easy to collaborate openly and review output.
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This is the question we all ask one another in our regular and peer 1:1s. In these more personal settings, it's easy to discuss what is going well and what can be improved, in all directions. For example, our CEO Bilal does all of his 1:1’s with 3 questions: What’s going well? What can be improved? What’s top of mind?
From an engineering standpoint, there are ample opportunities to solicit and give technical feedback. Code reviews and weekly sprint reviews allow team members to share what they have been working on and get feedback from the team.
Finally, we get feedback from our customers and incorporate what they say directly into our product on a weekly basis. Our Friday Customer Updates cover our prospect pipeline, trends in the market, and of course, how customers have seen success with our product. We care deeply about customer feedback and make sure every team member hears it.
Giving feedback is core to who we are and is a big part of how we operate as a company. Our Agile coaches help facilitate open and effective feedback, and coach us to be better at giving feedback. We will also have external coaches coming in to train the entire company on how to better solicit and receive feedback. Whether it comes in the form of code reviews, retrospectives, or our monthly company-wide information exchange, feedback is at the center of how we communicate and work together.
It is a big part of our company culture. So, direct feedback is given e.g. after workshops. We work on our feedback skills in terms of coaching by our agile coach. Also, we will be having trainings with an external coach within the next months with the whole company to become even better in giving feedback.
We are very data- and metrics-oriented, and each team reviews how their core metrics have changed over the last week. On an individual level, people are encouraged to seek feedback on work products in short cycles before shipping to their end customer. If an employee has feedback to offer another, it’s encouraged to ask, “May I give you some feedback?” before proceeding. Should conflict arise between individuals, we have a process for facilitating difficult conversations that encourages mutual understanding, respect, and personal growth.
Engineers give feedback on all pull requests and an approval review is required before code can go to production. We also have ad-hoc design gatherings / documents where engineers can bring up bigger initiatives they are working on (eg. moving from Heroku to AWS, integrating a new ACH provider) to get buy-in and feedback from other engineers. We pair program where appropriate, especially with junior engineers to keep everyone in sync and productive.
For meta feedback about the work, we encourage open and direct communication. We hold sessions on how to give and receive feedback constructively, and encourage it throughout all levels within the company. Our leadership team leads by example by practicing open communication with one another and the rest of the team live.
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