Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: feedback

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to feedback.

Recruiters Love (and Need) Your Feedback

Recruiters Love (and Need) Your FeedbackAs with any top-performing professional, great recruiters strive to improve so they can better help IT professionals find the right job with the right client. Also like all professionals, recruiters can only get better if they know how to improve. They take the same approach you would to deliver better service to your clients (reviewing past successes and failures, professional development, etc.) but they too can only fix the shortcomings that have been identified to them.

Perhaps you consider giving feedback to a recruiter uncomfortable or even unnecessary, but there are several benefits to you that will make you thankful you did. First and foremost, as we already alluded to, feedback is the only way your recruiter can truly improve. Both positive and negative, when recruiters know what they’re doing right and in which areas they lack, the best ones will build off their strengths and work on their weaknesses. The result will be more positive experience next time you work with them.

If you don’t believe it’s your responsibility to help a recruiter with their professional development, then consider that it is your shared responsibility to ensure proper communication. Especially when you’re dissatisfied with what’s happening, talking about anybody behind their back will not solve the issue. Instead, by expressing concerns and sharing your feedback, you create an opportunity for dialogue. Often in these cases, miscommunications and misunderstandings of expectations are identified and processes can start to be fixed. Finally, sharing feedback with a recruiter helps relationships. A humble recruiter always appreciates feedback and when you demonstrate a genuine effort to help them improve, they will remember it next time a job comes across their desk that fits your skillset.

How Can You Give Feedback to a Recruiter?

Excelling at giving feedback is a challenging task for anybody and recruitment agencies understand that. Most will provide multiple options for you to give feedback, but here are just a couple common ones:

  • Contact the Recruiter Directly. The obvious one is to call, email or arrange a face-to-face meeting. Tell your recruiter exactly how they’re doing or how they did, what they should keep doing and where they need to improve. This is the best solution if you want dialogue but also the most awkward and may not suit everyone’s personality.
  • Surveys. When you receive a survey from a recruitment agency, complete it. Not only do you get to respond at your convenience, but it is the easiest way to give them what they want to know AND rant about anything else you feel is relevant. More importantly, survey responses are almost always guaranteed to be seen by your recruiter’s manager. If you feel your direct feedback wasn’t received properly, this will deliver the message.

Giving feedback — both positive and negative — is a natural part of a successful career. It’s a good habit to provide feedback to your teammates, partners, clients, and of course recruiters. In addition to giving it, it’s even more important to be able to accept feedback. For many, that’s an entirely different challenge.

Constructively Accept Constructive Feedback

This may be a hard pill for some to swallow but believe it or not, you’re not perfect. That’s right, even YOU have some room to improve and by doing so you can advance your career as an IT contractor. The only way to get better at anything we do is to know our weaknesses and shortcomings and the best way to learn about them is to accept feedback.

As an independent contractor, feedback may come from clients, colleagues or recruiters at any time and for any reason. In addition to the obvious feedback you’ll get about your work while on a project, you may also hear from people regarding your general attitude, your interview skills, resume advice or something as simple as a more professional way to answer the phone.

Regardless of what kind of feedback you receive, who it’s from or why, it’s always beneficial to follow these tips and receive it effectively:

  1. Don’t get defensive, make excuses or justify yourself. At least at the onset of receiving feedback from somebody, take the time to hear them out and fully understand what they’re telling you. Doing so may lead to humility and self-awareness that can vastly improve who you are as a person in addition to the subject at hand.
  2. Practice active listening. Feedback is a common form of communication and, as such, “active listening” should absolutely be practiced. Be mindful of your body language to show you’re engaged, let them finish talking and ask questions to demonstrate that you do care about what is being said.
  3. Ensure you understand what’s being said. In addition to asking questions as suggested in the previous point, also summarize and clarify the feedback being given to you. This will ensure you both leave the conversation knowing exactly what improvements can be made.
  4. Ask for help whenever necessary. If you are struggling to understand how you can take their feedback and improve, then ask for guidance and suggestions. When people give feedback they should be genuinely interested in helping you and your project.
  5. Follow-up after implementing recommendations. Once you’ve taken the feedback into consideration and made changes to improve, check-in with the person who provided it with you to let them know the steps you took and to see if they’ve noticed an improvement. This will not only ensure your performance goes up, but it will demonstrate your appreciation for the feedback.
  6. It’s alright to ignore some feedback. Some people are nosey jerks who have no real constructive criticism or valuable advice to give. If you’re certain that is the scenario, feel free to ignore all or most of the previous tips. They may make some valid points which you should accept, but it’s not worth wasting too much energy on a negative person.

Any time somebody offers you feedback, remember that it’s often just as hard for them to give it as it is for you to receive it. Appreciate the situation and the confidence they may have had to build to give it to you. Regardless of whether or not you intend to act on feedback received, you should always remain polite and be thankful for the advice. After all, if you intend to provide feedback in the future, it will be received better by others if you can receive it well yourself.

Steps to the Best Code Review and Giving the Imminent Feedback

Giving feedback is a regular task for all IT contractors, regardless of your core area of expertise. Whether its to a colleague, a client or a direct report, feedback comes in a variety of forms and usually starts with an evaluation. For example, you may give a colleague feedback on their presentation after seeing it, give a fellow contractor feedback on their resume after reading it, and or give a developer feedback on their code after a careful review.

Unlike sitting through a presentation or glancing over a resume, reviewing code and giving feedback requires extensive focus, knowledge and attention to detail. That’s why the best code reviewers are able to land jobs working on the most exciting projects.

In a recent article published by The Muse, Full Stack Engineer Neely Kartha comments on some of her struggles when she first began reviewing code, specifically the stress that can come from the expectations. Obviously a great problem-solver with initiative, Kartha explains how she interviewed other professionals to collect tips on how to best review code. Here are the 5 most important ones she discovered:

  1. Think about the overall impact
  2. Consider security
  3. Focus on bugs
  4. Be a team player
  5. Use the process for learning and knowledge sharing

While the first three points require strong technical skills and experience to truly excel, the final two — being a team player and embracing the opportunity to grow — are soft skills that can often be more challenging. Kartha points out at the end of her article that the steps in providing feedback are a great opportunity to exercise your people skills. She suggests giving people the benefit of the doubt while trying to dispel defensiveness. Obviously this is no easy task, but surely something that top code reviewers have mastered.

Do you review code? If so, do you have any additional tips for a successful review that ensures a quality product and maintains good relationships with the author? We’d love your tips, please share them in the comments below.

Giving Feedback within Your IT Project Team

Giving Feedback within Your IT Project TeamGiving feedback to your peers, or even direct reports, can be a tricky road to navigate for anyone. It can be awkward and uncomfortable, and there may be a fear that you’ll offend someone, destroy team dynamics, and seriously harm your project. When successful, feedback can build trust in your team, build solid relationships and, ultimately, create a better project outcome. How can IT professionals give feedback that provides the latter? Here are a few basic tips for giving feedback:

Remember the Two Types of Feedback

Strike a balance between both reinforcement (positive) feedback and corrective (negative) feedback. Positive feedback points out a job well done and encourages a person to continue the same behavior, where negative feedback highlights a need for improvement. Unfortunately, too often we only give negative feedback, eliminating the massive motivational benefits that come from the recognition in positive feedback.

Keep Feedback SMART

The acronym can be used when setting goals, answering job interview questions and, yes, when giving constructive feedback. Rather than a simple “you could do this better”, provide a person with Specific details of the situation and how they can improve. Make it easy for them to Measure their progress and Achieve success in a Realistic manner. Finally, make feedback Time-bound, so a person has a specific deadline to work towards.

Be Careful How You Give the Feedback

Even if you’re providing SMART feedback, the specific words you choose and tone you use will affect how it is perceived. Ensure your language is not judgmental and your voice is not condescending. How you communicate is especially important when you’re working in a team where there are language and cultural barriers. Although you may think your message is coming across politely and clearly the recipient may not fully comprehend your tone.

Is the Feedback Really Necessary?

Before providing your input, make sure it is necessary, it will be helpful, and it’s your place to give it. If you don’t know the complete circumstances of the situation, if the person has no control over the situation, if you’re angry, or if it’s simply none of your business, then don’t saying anything at all. It’s also wise to “pick your battles.” Too much feedback can be overwhelming, frustrating and counter-productive. Therefore, ask yourself if it’s really that important.

Plan Your Feedback

Feedback should be given sooner rather than later (it’s common for peers to provide feedback when a project is over, which does not help improve the project), but also avoid jumping on it immediately. Plan carefully to understand the person’s situation, what you’ll say and where you’ll say it. For example, a public setting is great for positive feedback, but not appropriate for negative feedback.

Feedback is a two-way street. You have to be great at providing it, but the other person has to be willing to accept it. When some people hear feedback, they immediately think “you need to change” or “you’re terrible at what you do.” This is beyond your control, but ensuring you’re as good at accepting feedback as giving it will help others accept it too.

How does feedback get given and received on your teams? Do you have any secrets for giving it? If so, please share them with our readers in the comments below.

How to Improve Relationships During Your Job Search

Getting Better at This Will Improve Your Relationships with Clients and Recruitment Agencies

Morley Surcon By Morley Surcon,
Vice-President, Western Canada at Eagle

Getting Better at This Will Improve Your Relationships with Clients and Recruitment AgenciesPeople crave feedback.  Most of us would prefer positive feedback but we know that the negative feedback is important too.  It may not be what you want to hear, but what you needed to hear.  For example, properly taken, feedback can give an IT professional the opportunity to make adjustments before a project gets too far off the tracks.  For this to work the best, one should solicit feedback early and often.

For independent contractors, feedback can be much more than just gathering ideas for improvement.  At its best, it is also about relationship building and requires you to be great at both receiving and giving.  When you are engaged in a discussion regarding feedback with your client or recruitment agency, you are saying that you care about the deliverable, that you care about the project, and that your good reputation and your relationship with the other entity is important as well.  It is hard to over-communicate in this respect.

As a staffing agency, Eagle cherishes our independent contractor partners that reach out to let us know how things are going — what’s going well and what could be better.  It keeps us in the loop and minimizes surprises.  We encourage our client contacts to do the same.   When we hear dissonance between the two sources, then we know we have an issue that needs to be worked out.  There’s often opportunity to “fix” an issue before it becomes a real problem.

Employment agencies do their best to connect at least once per month with the contractors that they have on assignment. If your recruiter reaches out to you to follow up, take that opportunity to really share how your assignment is shaping up.  It could be the best 20 minute investment of time that you make that day.

How to Tell a Client’s Employees They Suck

How to Tell a Client's Employees They SuckIt’s not unusual for independent contractors to suffer backlash from the full-time employees at their client site. You’re sometimes seen as a know-it-all who’s coming in to take their work. That means, that when there’s feedback to give and change to recommend, you’re likely to see some sort of resistance.

Delivering this sort of news is common for independent contractors, and many have mastered the art. For others, it’s still an uncomfortable situation or you always find it blowing up in your face. Here are a few simple pointers you can keep in mind next time you need to move a project in a different direction.

Don’t Assume They’re Wrong

It’s important to remain humble and accept that there may be more than just one way (your way) to do something. There are many variables involved in any decision, and whichever choice you disagree with may have also had some factors associated with it. Ensure you understand the full picture, including all of the client’s goals, resources and limitations, to better understand why they’re going in the direction they selected. If you still think they’re on the wrong track, then this exercise may help you uncover the root of the problem or develop a better fitting solution.

Prepare an Effective Feedback Strategy

Before you start explaining how you disagree, ensure that you’ve set up an environment and scenario where your feedback will be understood and compelling. For example, is it something that needs to be said to only one person in private, or do you need to call a meeting to discuss it with an entire team? You also need to consider timing. Providing the feedback immediately will keep the project from continuing in the current direction, but casually mentioning it in the lobby won’t allow for optimal communication. Finally, especially if your comments have potential to start a heated disagreement, refrain from email at all costs; the tone will never come across as you desired.

It’s All in the Delivery

How you say it is more important than what you’re saying. As already noted, it’s important to choose your timing. If your meeting is impromptu, then don’t surprise your client and team members. Open up by asking if you can give some feedback. When you start, be brief, factual, direct and calm. It’s also important that you choose your words wisely. Avoid negative words like “can’t” or “but” and be inclusive with “we could try this” rather than “you need to do that.” Finally, depending on how technical your audience is, you may need to refrain from too much jargon, to make sure they accurately understand the situation.

Get the Most Buy-In

You’ll know you succeeded at telling your client and the employees they’re wrong when they buy into it, rather than being left in an angry state. To achieve this, start to demonstrate your expertise the moment you come onto the site. We’re not recommending you always show them up by flaunting your knowledge, but instead, show your professionalism in simple ways like dressing properly and being punctual for meetings. Build a relationship of trust by mentoring full-time employees so they can learn with you, rather than feeling inferior. When you do give your feedback, come prepared with suggestions that match the overall project goals and backed up with facts and past experiences. Above all, when possible, work with the client and team to develop a solution together.

Feedback on a project is never easy to give, especially when it’s to people who may not be open to it or are dedicated to the current method. Following the tips above should help but above all, remember to pick your battles. Make recommendations in your areas of expertise (what you were called in to do) or it may come off as telling others how to do their work. In addition, be prepared for rejection. The changes you recommend may not happen and that’s ok. If you want to keep working on the contract, you will need to suck it up so you can move a project forward to success.

Contractor Quick Poll: What do you want to know?

Our goal of the Talent Development Centre is to bring value to independent contractors so they can be more successful. We strive to bring you content to help run your business, improve your skills, win more contracts, and of course enjoy a bit of fun here and there. In this month’s Quick Poll, we want to understand what content interests you the most so we can ensure that we bring you more of it! If you have any more specific suggestions, please leave them in the comments below.


See the results here

Happy Birthday to the Talent Development Centre!

Today marks the first anniversary since the Talent Development Centre’s first post.  In the past year, we’ve posted about a variety of topics.  More importantly, we’ve had the opportunity to share content from some interesting people, have had conversations with many different readers, and supplied information specific to independent contractors.

We want to do even more in our second year, but to do that, we need your help. Please take a few minutes to complete this TDC Visitor Survey and let us know what more you would like to see from the Talent Development Centre to ensure your independent contractor business can thrive. The survey is only 15 questions and should take you no more than 3 minutes to complete. It will be open for all of June, so you can come back and complete it any time.

We want to take this special day to thank all of our readers for your comments and contributions, your shares, and your loyalty.

Take the TDC Visitor Survey