One of the things that ThoughtWorks focuses heavily on is career development. They have a vested interest in making sure their people are the best they can be. Better employees leave a better impression for our clients, and happy clients make for repeat clients. It's good for ThoughtWorks, and it's good or us as well. One of the biggest methods in which we try to develop ourselves is with regular feedback sessions. Getting feedback from the people you've worked closely with is invaluable. Perspective is an important thing, and it's great getting that from other smart people.
On our last day of the project, we elected to do a 360 feedback session. A 360 feedback session is simply where everyone on the project gives and receives feedback from every other person on the project in a one on one setting. There were only six of us on the project, so we only had to set aside an hour for our session. The first ten minutes had us all sit in a circle and go around taking turns receiving positive feedback from everyone else. That serves as a little ice-breaking activity, just something to loosen everyone up. After that we paired up and took 10 minutes each do our one on one sessions.
It was a seriously great experience. It was really nice to hear that a lot of the things I tend to take for granted are appreciated. For instance, I'm always eager to hear suggestions from my peers, and I always do my best to act on them as immediately as possible. I see no sense in waiting to improve myself, I just jump right in. This is apparently a trait that is not always common, but it's just the way I've always been. I'm certainly not the pinnacle of humanity, there will always be things that I can do better. The sooner I find out about those things, the sooner I can begin working on them.
On the other hand, a fairly common critique for me is that I'm a little too quiet. This is one that'll be harder for me to remedy as it's completely true, and also pretty deeply ingrained. I hate saying things that aren't correct. Generally, I'd prefer to listen and think for a while before I start dishing out my own opinions. That sort of deliberation doesn't work so well in a collaborative environment. When you're pairing with someone, holding things back slows everything down. If you're trying to reason something out, your pair can help you if you'll let them. If they understand something better, they can explain it. If they don't, at least you can bounce ideas off them. Either way, you'll get to your destination faster with that boost.
Saying "I don't know" or "I don't understand" is not easy. You have to be able to trust the people you work with in order to open yourself up like that. I was fortunate to be on a small team of great people for my first project, all of them were super willing to hash things out to make sure we all stayed on the same page. Unfortunately it was only a six week project, so I may have to start building up that relationship again when I get my next assignment. If I’m lucky, we’ll re-up with our client and get rolling again with as many of the same team as we had before. But I suppose we’ll see how that goes!