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.”
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We value intellectual humility and acknowledge the limits of our own perspective, welcoming both positive and constructive feedback with open arms. We believe that feedback should be frequent and specific. This results in fewer surprises, a more collaborative environment, and a space where we can make mistakes and learn.
There are many examples of our feedback-rich culture, some of which include:
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.
Giving each other feedback is not just a competitive advantage, we believe it’s also a moral obligation. We aspire to give feedback not just to our managers and direct reports, but also to everyone around us (including ourselves). That’s why we have an open feedback calendar and encourage employees to take the initiative to seek and give honest feedback regularly. Simply drop your colleagues a calendar invite for a feedback session.
We also have bi-weekly 1:1s dedicated to feedback and view prepping for them well in advance as an important commitment. Good feedback should be both caring and direct, which is why we have a specific feedback template (see below) that employees fill out prior to the 1:1.
Our emphasis on always giving feedback influenced Aaliya Manji, chief of staff, to create a ‘Thanks of the Week’ section in our all-hands meeting doc. It was a great way for team members to recognize one another and further foster Aula’s culture of warm and caring relationships in a remote setting. Ultimately, taking the time to thoughtfully engage in feedback sessions garners respect from other team members and helps us all grow.
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Every member of our team has a unique perspective and can contribute in valuable ways to both our product and our processes. We have formal weekly retrospectives as well as at the end of big projects. We don’t take these for granted since they are the best times to reflect on what we did well and where we can make improvements. The feedback we give one another is always specific, direct, and honest, and most importantly, it always comes from the desire to make the product better for our customers. We also do weekly demos to solicit in-the-moment feedback for work that is in progress and design reviews to critique upcoming feature work.
Informally, we give shoutouts to each other whenever someone is doing a great job or embodying one of our company’s core values. This includes transparency, supporting teammates and our users, or finding innovative, simple ways to make our user experience more delightful or approachable.
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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.
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?”
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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.
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 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 believe in continuous self-improvement at Caviar and want to ensure everyone has a means to receive recognition and feedback. While most people appreciate being recognized for their hard work and want to receive feedback on how they can improve, we understand that it’s not one-size-fits-all. One application of this is “Caviar Credit Kudos”—a quarterly stipend of Caviar credit to gift to peers in recognition of their good work. Knowing people’s preferences from the beginning means we can do public shout-outs for those that want it and conduct more discrete recognition (like in manager 1:1s) for others.
We also encourage direct feedback between individuals. We do our best to open up lines of communication between team members and not create back-channels.
There are also more structured opportunities to give and receive feedback. Everyone has a weekly 1:1 with their manager where they can ask for specific feedback. Additionally, we have a twice-a-year, company-wide feedback cycle that ensures every Caviar employee has an opportunity to receive structured feedback from their peers and lead.
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.
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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Whether it’s informally in meetings, via our Slack #thanks channel or during our weekly All-Hands, we care deeply about feedback. We put effort into being good at giving feedback: When we give feedback, we make each other feel big, not small.
Feedback is essential for effective communication and psychological safety. However, giving feedback can be difficult to do. Giving or receiving feedback can be uncomfortable and there's always a risk of triggering defensiveness if not done thoughtfully. As a result, feedback loops close and collaboration suffers on most teams as they grow. We care deeply about giving and receiving feedback in a way that makes others feel big not small.
We put a lot of energy into developing good practices at Aptible, and building a culture of feedback. We hold workshops on giving and receiving feedback. We then apply our feedback skills during weekly 1:1’s, during our All-Hands meetings (where teams present on how their work is tracking against that quarter’s OKRs), and in our everyday interactions.
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:
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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.
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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.
We believe feedback must be delivered directly, and aim to do so across all of the communication channels we use: in person, and via Slack, Github, Height, and Zoom. We provide review on every pull request, have design reviews each week, and have a weekly check-in where everyone at Compound is encouraged to bring up any issues to the group, whether about the product, the company, or anything else. We also make it clear to everyone on the team that feedback should be delivered individually at any time.
When giving feedback, we encourage everyone to:
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