All too often on projects and in teams, members seem too afraid to tell their colleagues when something can be improved upon, or there is opportunity in their workstream of which the colleague may not be aware. It seems to me that all too often teams and projects have an over reliance on leadership members to give them this valuable feedback. The simple fact is that when teams collaborate effectively and are able to given valuable, constructive feedback, the project improves, and the health and the culture of the team gets stronger. That is not to say that there are not bumps in the road, there always are, and will be. This post will give advice on how team members can build the confidence to say, “I respectfully disagree.”
Know your stuff. When you are part of a team or project it is important that you know the ins and outs of what is happening. The more you know, the more you grow. This is true professionally, as well. Having a curious mind about how every workstream works on a team and project can help you size up any opportunities as you seem them, from your perspective. This takes time, collaboration, and tons of research (usually) to understand the ins and outs of a projects. This is especially true if you are a new hire or new team member.
Prepare and rehearse your feedback ahead of time. Most projects have running slide decks with daily updates and helpful information. Usually there is a preview of such decks. Internalize these early, and generate feedback or concerns you may have. Then, rehearse the feedback to build your confidence and feedback chops. Practice really does help.
While being a Devil’s advocate can be helpful in the right situations, do not be the person that just gives feedback to make his or her voice heard. If something is solid and you have an understanding, say so and then move on. When you have valid feedback, please, speak up. Generally folks welcome constructive help on what it is they are doing and the feedback will be welcome.
Giving feedback shows that you are actively involved and are curious about the components of the project and team and across various workstreams. This will serve you well, especially when onboarding to a new role or team. Folks that seek to understand generally are the ones that become process subject matter experts, and are generally the ones that get a lot of responsibility. While responsibility can suck sometimes, it usually leads to really great things in the professional context. Do not be afraid to build up those feedback chops, folks.