A culture of open feedback at JustGiving

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At JustGiving one of our principles is “fail fast and grow” and that’s why an open feedback culture is important to us. In order to grow and continuously improve yourself you need to find out what you are doing well and what you need to change. No matter at what stage you are in your career you should always be welcoming feedback if you are the kind of person that wants to get better, keep learning and improving.

As we go about our daily routines, doing the work that is a priority and moving fast, we tend to not think about feedback as an important aspect of personal and professional development. When we finally find the time to improve ourselves we usually decide to go on a training, read a book or attend a conference. These are great choices and I definitely encourage it, however self-improvement could be as simple as asking feedback about a specific task that you have done. Receiving feedback and knowing where you need to improve, can help you choose what to pick next from a diverse pack of learning options.

Introducing continuous feedback with Impraise

At JustGiving, we have introduced Impraise as a tool to give 360° feedback. We believe that feedback shouldn’t come only from your manager, but also from your peers. We also think that it works better when you ask feedback about a specific situation rather than wait for someone to tell how they think you can improve.

The way to go about making the best of a tool like Impraise is to use it often. Asking for small feedback often and adopting a mindset of curiosity when it comes to what people have to say about you and your work, will make you aware of areas for improvement and even limiting factors for progression. Welcoming feedback, appreciating it and even asking people how they think you should implement the feedback will demonstrate that you want to improve and it is more likely that they will give you feedback next time.

How often should I use a tool like Impraise?

Personally I like to continuously improve myself, and I am happiest when I’m learning. When I feel like my progression is standing still, or I want to figure out what the next thing I should focus on, that’s a good point to ask for feedback. Furthermore, I also like to ask feedback when I want to know how I used my skills in a particular situation. For example, how I have used my organisational skills to produce an event, or how I’ve communicated and inspired an audience at a talk, or how I’ve used my analytical skills to solve a problem. Ideally you want to ask for feedback often, several times a month if you can. I suggest that you don’t wait till you next performance review to ask for feedback. It is more likely that people will give you more relevant feedback the least time it has passed since a particular situation or event, and you can take real actions for improvement following that.

How do we give feedback as JustGiving?

We encourage people to provide constructive feedback regardless if the feedback is given proactively or if it was requested by someone. Constructive feedback is feedback that is relevant and can help someone understand what they can improve and also benefit the team they work with. We encourage people to use the SBI (Situation-Behavior-Impact) approach to give feedback. This approach will allow you to provide very clear and specific feedback.

In the SBI model, you firstly describe the situation and are specific when it occurred. Then, you the describe the behaviour observed without assuming what the other person was thinking and trying to be aware of unconscious bias. Finally, you describe the impact, what you thought or felt in reaction to the behaviour of the person you are giving feedback too.

What about communicating face-to-face?

Impraise is a great tool to articulate your thoughts in writing and give you the space and time to help someone by providing constructive feedback. But keep in mind that Impraise should be used along face-to-face conversations with your peers and manager, and not replace it. At JustGiving, we want to encourage an open feedback culture, ensuring people have regular 1-on-1 conversations with their manager to explore paths for improvement. As such, Impraise should be seen a tool to support and improve our current feedback mechanisms. There is nothing like a good chat with a co-worker over a cup of coffee, so talking to each other is crucial! Impraise can help to enrich the feedback given to each other and even reach people from other teams and departments easily.

Follow-Up

Another thing to keep in mind is that the process is not complete once you received feedback. Feedback will only become a successful tool for development, if you follow up and action it. You can respond to your feedback by talking to your manager and exploring ways to improve. It’s not always easy to receive feedback. We’re all trying to do our best and want to feel accepted and appreciated. The best way to receive feedback is to welcome it and do something with it. Think about finding ways to improve upon the feedback you received and how to implement them. Follow up with the person that gave you the feedback and tell them what you plan to do about it, and later down the line ask them if they think you have improved.


JustGiving introduced Impraise recently, and some of our teams are still adopting it. Our goal is to provide a tool to support ongoing, open and clear communication between employees, a tool that will trigger people to think about their personal and professional development and allow us as a team and as a company to continue to grow.

I would love to hear about your culture of feedback. Feel free to comment below or email me at ana.henneberke@justgiving.com.


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About the author

Ana Henneberke

Head of Software Delivery - I love team dynamics, agile engineering practices, collective thinking, inclusion and science of happiness!

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