Editor’s Note: This post is written by the team at Eat Your Coffee as part of our guest author series.
What began as a joke about how convenient it would be to eat coffee on the way to class became somewhat of a dorm room experiment that led to the creation of Eat Your Coffee. Since then, we’ve grown our team and EYC (Eat Your Coffee) has scaled tremendously. We also moved to being a 100% remote company a few years ago with the help of a handful of tools, including Asana.
We’ve learned a lot about how to work remotely from trial and error—including how to deliver feedback effectively. Learning how to deliver good virtual feedback is vital for any remote team. It builds trust between team members and ensures everyone is working efficiently. We’ve had a lot of practice giving and receiving virtual feedback over the years, and we’ve learned a few things along the way. Here’s our top tips.
1. Choose the right setting and use video when possible
If you can’t meet face-to-face, a video call over platforms like Zoom or Google Meet is the next best thing. Choose somewhere quiet and private if possible so you can focus all of your attention on the person on the other end. This allows you to still pick up on non-verbal cues like body language and facial expressions, and provide a deeper level of communication than a written message alone.
Calling your teammate on the phone is another great option if time is of the essence and you’re unable to get in front of your computer. Hearing the other person’s voice is a helpful way to gauge emotions and reactions that come up when you talk through sensitive topics. It also lessens the chance of your feedback or tone being misinterpreted.
If all else fails, written feedback via email or Asana is also an acceptable form of communication. Be sure to clearly outline your points (bulleted lists are great for more detailed feedback), and do your best to put yourself in the reader’s shoes and think about how you would receive this feedback if the roles were reversed.
2. Share feedback in real time
When it comes to sharing feedback, there’s no time like the present. Whether it’s positive or constructive, sharing your feedback in real time will help give your teammates signal on how they’re meeting or not meeting expectations. At Eat Your Coffee, we use the 48-hour rule to keep feedback timely and relevant so nothing festers. It also gives the person receiving feedback the opportunity to process the information and get back on track sooner than if you wait for a formal review cycle or your next one-on-one.
3. Include helpful context
Including context and examples is another key part of keeping feedback constructive and actionable. Remember to keep the focus on the behaviour and not the individual. It’s one thing to say, “Here’s what you did wrong,” and it’s another to say, “I noticed that when X happened, the result was Y, and here’s how that impacted the team.” Sticking to facts will also help keep emotions from running high, which could make your teammate less receptive to hearing feedback in the moment.
Bonus: other tips to keep in mind
Remember that you and your teammates are at the company for the same reasons. You all want to do your best, push the company forward, and share in the success. Therefore, it’s important to both give and receive feedback with transparency, honesty, and care.
If you’re not quite sure how to broach a topic, try talking it through or role playing with your manager first.
Stay connected with more open communication
No matter where you’re working, one thing is certain: open and honest communication is key to staying connected and building healthy team dynamics. When communication is open and your team is comfortable providing feedback up and down the ladder, everyone wins.