What ever happened to real feedback at work?
Although the vast majority of companies these days have “feedback” in their lexicon, it seems like most of the time giving feedback is just something that some higher power says you have to do, one more box you have to tick. Even worse, giving feedback is often something that people dread – and I’ve never understood why.
So, when Fuckup Nights had its first team-wide feedback session a little over a month ago, we made the conscious decision to tweak some of the practices that the so-called “experts” on the internet recommend. Our mission? To really own the session, make it personal and valuable, and incorporate our own fun, Fuckup style.
Our focus on building an environment of transparency and creating a space where the whole team felt we could be vulnerable allowed us to trust each other, share our thoughts openly, and provide real, candid, and (hopefully) valuable feedback.
Based on this experience, I’m excited to share some of the things that I think really helped make this activity a success:
Setting up the session:
During the team-wide session, each team member was responsible for giving feedback to another member of the team, typically someone outside of their immediate area (for example, someone from the communications team would give feedback to someone on the operations team).
This set up was based on the idea that someone who’s not too involved in day-to-day activities might be able to identify areas of opportunity that someone from the same team might not be able to see because they’re in the weeds.
We approached it almost like a “secret Santa” activity – no one knew who was going to be giving them feedback, and after each person received feedback, it was their turn to give feedback to someone else. This created an opportunity for everyone on the team to both give and receive feedback.
We used a formula that combined both positive and constructive feedback. First, the giver was asked to share one thing that the receiver is really good at, or something about them that is inspiring or amazing. Then, the giver shared one area the receiver could improve – with the intention of giving valuable and actionable advice.
The point of this exercise wasn’t just to draw attention to opportunities for improvement, but to actually provide a resource that could help the receiver actually make positive changes.
This could take the form of a book recommendation, a potentially helpful habit, or some other practice that could lead to improvement. Our thought process behind this requirement was if you’re only describing a problem. you’re not really being very useful.
What really helped make this session work was making sure we stuck to our values – “be 1% better each day,” “have the difficult conversations,” and always, always “act from a place of love.”
Connecting these values to the exercise helped guide both the content of the feedback and the way it was delivered.
And when we ran the session like this, something magical happened. No one was upset about the feedback they received – nobody felt called out or put on the spot. Instead, there was a shared sense of empathy and respect, along with the mutual understanding that the person giving feedback was focused on uplifting and supporting their teammates while also improving themselves.
Beyond the tactical improvements, the most valuable takeaway from an exercise like this is just how much you can learn about your team, and how each team member complements each other when the focus is on personal growth, not competition.
At the end of the day, everyone fucks up. Everyone has their super power and their Kryptonite – but everyone should ultimately be dedicated to being 1% better each day.
And true, honest feedback is how to make it happen.
Business Development LatAm
Founder of a failed consulting agency that helped companies create more relaxing and healthier work spaces. Currently working at Fuckup Inc. as Business Development LatAm, bringing the Fuckup Nights antidote to corporations around the world. Collaborates with the Culture Collective team in Mexico. Loves deep conversations, random questions, playing tennis. Hates vegetables.