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How to listen to your team

In this article, discover how to create space for feedback with your teams and why inclusion is so important.
an image of a team of people sat around a table. Some are on their laptops, some are taking notes.
© Creative Computing Institute

Practising inclusion is not just something we do as individuals but something we should be doing collectively, by creating cultures of inclusion in our teams and workplaces.

One of the ways we can begin to foster inclusive cultures is by making our workplaces a safe environment for open and honest feedback.

Why is feedback so important?

Feedback is one of the primary ways we can foster growth and connectivity within our teams. Lena Rossman states that feedback helps us to “improve our self-awareness and consequently change destructive behaviours and reinforce constructive behaviours” (1).

So often, feedback is mistaken for criticism, but as we discussed with our biases, we need to begin to separate ourselves from our ideas, which allows us to be receptive to feedback.

Constructive feedback is not an attack on our ideas, it’s a gesture of kindness from someone who wants what we are doing to be the best it can be. If we are unwilling to listen, then we are unable to respond and grow. Feedback is a dialogue, one that translates into individual and collective growth.

Creating space for feedback

Creating a culture for open and honest feedback takes work. It is not the result of intermittent feedback sessions dispersed throughout the design process.

We should be seeking feedback consistently, especially as we embed participatory design into our work. While a lot of teams still operate with a top-down mentality, we have to think about working more horizontally so that every voice can be heard. Lena Rossman states: “Everyone in your organization is a sensor.

Your team detects both issues and opportunities. If people are afraid of being criticised or ridiculed by others, they will keep their best ideas and observations to themselves.” By building a culture where everyone’s opinions are valued we can allow for feedback to be a collective experience, not an individual one.

Feedback in practice

Creating a positive and inclusive workplace that is receptive to feedback as it happens leads to better outcomes for your technologies. If problems arise, it’s important that they are dealt with constructively, whether that’s a problem between team members or a problem in your design process.

Constructive feedback is about honesty, but it’s important that when we are giving feedback we do so with compassion and empathy. Be receptive to your team, as some people respond differently to feedback than others.

Think about building a culture where feedback is encouraged, no matter how casual or insignificant it might feel.

You might like to consider the following when looking to create a positive feedback culture:

  • Consider setting up daily check-ins which create space for feedback. During these check-ins be receptive to different kinds of feedback. You can guide daily check-ins with a question so that you can gain feedback on a particular area.
  • Consistently ask questions of yourself and your teams such as what is working? What is not working?
  • Think about keeping a log of feedback you receive and what it pertains to

References:

  1. Lena Rossman, 2020. Creating space for growth with feedback
© Creative Computing Institute
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