Growth at AMBOSS: Our Feedback Culture

Gain confidence and overcome the awkwardness of less-than-glowing feedback

What’s the feedback culture like at AMBOSS? How can you gain confidence and overcome the awkwardness of giving less-than-glowing feedback? Here are our four golden rules of fabulous feedback!

We’re told that our feedback culture is part of what makes AMBOSS special. Every three months, our trusty peer-feedback tool asks us those two all-important questions: ‘what does your colleague do well’ and ‘how could they improve?’. 

They may look simple, but many of us struggle to answer these questions honestly or give our colleagues specific areas for improvement. We often fall back on giving blanket praise or unhelpfully vague answers.

This is where AMBOSS’ feedback workshops come in, helping compassionate people to speak their truth with confidence!

Peer feedback workshops

At AMBOSS, we really try to hone our feedback skills to support each others’ professional growth. Our regular Peer Feedback Workshops are a fantastic resource for this. Packed with tips and tricks for finding the best solution to any challenge together, they’ll have you sharing your thoughts constructively in no time!

Without further ado, here’s a sneak peek at the four golden rules AMBOSSians use to tackle that issue:

1. Practice ‘Radical Candor’ 

This approach is characterized by the ability to challenge directly and show that you care personally about the person you’re speaking to.

What does this mean at AMBOSS? Treating each other as individuals and as humans, listening to each other, building relationships, and being honest, straightforward, timely, and specific when giving feedback.

A team communicating like this has created a community of trust and knows that criticisms are constructive. These are teammates who genuinely want to see each other succeed.

2. Encourage a ‘Growth Mindset’

This approach is centered around the belief that individuals’ talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies, and feedback from others. People with a growth mindset enjoy challenges, strive to learn, and consistently see potential to develop new skills in challenging situations. Fostering a growth mindset is one sure-fire way to nurture your colleagues’ confidence. Encouraging them to try out new ideas, take accountability for the outcomes, and own their mistakes.

Sounds like a great working environment, right? So, how can you promote a growth mindset? By following these three simple steps:

→ Propose action that can be taken for your colleague to achieve their goals.

→ Suggest possible methods for improvement.

→ Promote that mistakes present opportunities to learn.

And what not to do? Avoid telling someone they’re good/bad, right/wrong because this can induce a fear of failure and stagnate learning. Reframe your feedback so that challenges come across as opportunities for improvement, not examples of where their capabilities end.

Check out Carol Dweck’s book ‘Mindset’ to dig deeper into the psychology of using a growth mindset to achieve your goals faster and enjoy the process!

3. Give examples of your most important points

Avoid giving unhelpful or vague feedback and help your colleague understand your point. It’s powerful to start with your observations, continue with why you think your colleague behaves this way, and end with its effect on you. Separating your own experience into these three parts can also help you become more mindful about your own interpretations and reactions: win-win!

4. Give feedback early & often

This point doesn’t just feed into our practice of radical candor; giving regular feedback can prevent unnecessary escalation and promote continuous growth.

But a good feedback culture isn’t just crucial between colleagues. At AMBOSS, we believe in the importance of a feedback culture that constantly evolves; people are constantly changing, so the way we work together should too! That’s why there’s always an opportunity at the feedback workshops for participants to share their ideas and suggest improvements on how we give feedback.

Janina Cußmann is Head of HR at AMBOSS and one of the internal feedback training facilitators. She told us: “One suggestion was to introduce an upward feedback channel to give managers quarterly feedback, too. I really loved the idea, and only a few weeks later, we introduced it! In the first feedback cycle for managers alone, we received 123 comments from our AMBOSSians, which we certainly count as a success.”

Before you go…

You’ve seen how you can grow at AMBOSS, but we can’t let you go without sharing one of the most important things we’ve learned about feedback (thanks to one of our favorite books, ‘Being Buddha at Work’ by BJ Gallagher & Franz Metcalf):

let go of your ego and recognize the value of listening to other people’s feedback, especially when you didn’t ask for it. If you give in to resentment, you learn from no one. If you are grateful, you learn from everyone. If you truly want to be wise, you will view everyone as your teacher.

Voices of AMBOSS

Bianca Henzler, HR Business Partner & one of our peer feedback workshop hosts

“It’s great to have this format of Peer Feedback Workshops for aligning how we envision the feedback culture at AMBOSS and how it’s actually experienced by employees. Since the participants represent a diverse mix of people across AMBOSS teams, we discuss new perspectives and questions in nearly every workshop. It’s great to see how much knowledge we have about feedback in the company already. Based on that, our workshop is constantly evolving, and the whole organization benefits from the insights of individual AMBOSSians.”

Abud Davutoğl, Front End Engineer

“The feedback process at AMBOSS is transparent and done in a very kind way. In Engineering, we often use the retrospective meeting to give feedback about our work over the past 2 weeks. Team members use this opportunity to express what they like and dislike and suggest ways to improve the process. Often, feedback in this meeting is not personal, pointing at what doesn’t work rather than the person who caused an issue. When the retrospective fails to improve an issue, team members tend to give their feedback to their manager, who then works out a solution to the problem. At AMBOSS, we learn about giving feedback through workshops – one of which I attended. I learned techniques to help me focus on how the problem affects me and how I imagine it could be solved. In turn, techniques to avoid attacking the person receiving my feedback.”

Viola Welter, Content Lead, Medical Video

“At AMBOSS, we value and take part in a regular up and down feedback routine. The culture created by that really makes me feel like I am both challenged and supported to grow personally.”

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