Why feedback should not be your main tool for growth?

Marcin Konkel
5 min readDec 31, 2021
A lonely tree in Indonesia. © Marcin Konkel . All rights reserved.

Throughout the years, I’ve received tons of feedback from Recruiters, Agile Coaches, Scrum Masters, Software Engineers, Product Managers, Product Owners, Leaders, Heads, CxOs, Clients etc. The quality of the feedback varied. The shortest feedback I received was one word (no swearing). The longest was something around A4 paper (font size 10). I’ve used the company’s surveys and my own. In my own, I iterated on the questions at least ten times, sometimes changing them depending on the context. I was also organising feedback sessions in organisations and teams. I learned the following (with an essential part at the end of this essay).

Feedback = sharing expectations regarding somebody’s behaviour to change it for the future

Feedback in organisations is a reflection of their goals and culture

This does not make it instantly pointless. Companies focus their feedback initiatives on their short and long-term goals as well as their understanding of roles and culture. In other words, the company focuses on what it wants to achieve instead of on what you want to accomplish in your career (which is reasonable and expected). Those expectations can, of course, align with how you want to develop and the closer, the better. However, this fact might skew the results you are getting if you look more holistically at your career.

What worked for me:
* Asking my own questions based on the skill or behaviour that was essential for me to learn at the time, e.g. what value did Marcin’s workshops provide you or your team?
* Sending my own surveys — I usually did not wait till the official process of getting feedback started and did surveys as often as I felt (usually once a quarter).
* Thinking about my goals and what I want to learn in a particular assignment, role, job, and why.
* Talk directly if possible and follow up — when I felt the feedback made me uncomfortable or something was unclear, I strived to have a 1-on-1 chat to elicit more of what I was missing.

People might not know what to expect from your role

Marcin Konkel

I talk about fostering hyper-productive teams and focused orgs where people and products flourish 🚀 Helped 100+ teams to grow 🌱 Mentor to Scrum Masters 🦸