My work as Agile coach includes regular training lessons with agile teams, product owners and other staff. Usually after a training or workshop I kindly ask the participants for their verbal feedback about the workshop, my moderation, the exercises, etc. A common practice that I just adapted from other trainers with the aim to improve my own training and moderation skills. Unfortunately the results of the verbal feedback rounds were not satisfying for me due to various problems:
- Giving honest verbal feedback strait in the face seemed to be hard for my participants and therefore it was often omitted
- Participants seemed to feel a barrier exposing their individual thoughts about the training in front of the group
- Participants gave pseudo feedback by just repeating other’s feedback or giving hollow feedback
- Only a few participants gave feedback at all
- I hardly received constructive improvements (which is most interesting for me)
- If there was plenty of verbal feedback after the training I often forgot most of it until I had time to reflect on it
- Participants didn’t know how to express appropriate feedback
As a result I thought about alternative feedback mechanisms. I expected less problems with written feedback, which led to the idea to use a happiness door, a feedback mechanism created by Jurgen Appelo that I already knew from the management 3.0 workshop I attended some months ago.
Could the happiness door address my problems I had with verbal feedback rounds?
Yes. What has changed is that my participants felt safe to express their feedback semi-anonymously on sticky notes, which was not the case with the verbal feedback rounds. As a result I received more valuable feedback on my training lesson. Also everyone was willing to write at least one sticky note and because of less mutual influencing there was more individual feedback on the door. Finally seeing the feedback visually in front of me on the happiness scale was just great, because it gave me an instant feeling about my training performance and also helped me to remember a feeling of the training lesson. After the training I spent another 15 minutes to carefully read, interpret and summarize the feedback, which helped me to reflect. Last but not least due to sticky notes I didn’t miss any feedback, which happened quite often when doing verbal feedback rounds.
The only drawback I identified so far is that the written feedback can be easily misinterpreted and that there is no possibility to ask questions back. And of course you need to ask for a nice handwriting if you want to apply a happiness door.
Anyway, to put it in a nutshell the happiness door turned out to be a good feedback mechanism for me and there will be more happiness doors in my future training lessons for sure.