Appreciation at Work, Feedback, and Gift Giving Go Hand-in-Hand

Photo by Laura LaRose

Photo by Laura LaRose

Years ago, a colleague encouraged our coaching group to take a quiz to discover our language of appreciation—it’s similar to love languages and applies to work relationships. It was little surprise that my primary language is gifts. A number of the Scrum Masters I’d been coaching had received some kind of token gift from me to express thanks or cheer them on. And quite a few of my Improving coworkers have experienced deliveries of flowers, cookies, balloons, and other items in recognition of their accomplishments and milestones.

Recently I shared an article on social media about anonymous feedback. Feedback is a tricky beast—the word can cause the same panic as a bear suddenly crossing our path. It is often something we dread, whether we are giving feedback or receiving it. I’ve found anonymous or third-party feedback difficult because it creates weirdness in relationships. Where ignorance may have been bliss, there are now eggshells to walk around. My friend Ann-Marie had the most brilliant response to the article:

Giving feedback is giving gifts and it's best to receive gifts in person!

Asking for feedback can be scary, and it’s often considered impolite to ask for gifts… and yet it’s a beautiful metaphor to reframe feedback. If you can tell someone what you want to become or achieve, they’re often happy to help you. Gifts of potential blind spots, words of wisdom, and resources to explore may abound from that opening. Imagine what a gift exchange of feedback could look like! What if you could have a day of feedback gifts to boost you up as if it was your birthday? That sounds amazing.

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.