I manage a bunch of interns. We have an open-floor office layout - I work in a room with four interns, for example. Other interns are scattered through other rooms. (We don't have cubicles.)

Should I just walk up to the intern and give them feedback, regardless of whether others are around? Or should I ask them to step out of the room with me?

Their work doesn't move them away from their desk often enough for me to catch them when they're walking in the halls.

I'm just starting to use the feedback model, so I'm thinking of sending an introductory email to the office to let them know I'll be using it, and to let them know that I'll be asking them to step aside with me so they expect it.

Any recommendations?


rwwh's picture
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Don't make feedback into a big event. Do it like breathing. Lean over their desk a little, tone down your voice and ask "Can I give you some feedback?", just there and then. 

jay2k's picture

I too have a team of people that sit in an open area with their desk very close together.  Even at a whisper, other team members can here any conversation.  When talking in a lower voice, this typically draws attention for folks to listen a little harder.

I would like to keep feedback between me an the recipient so it does not start a large discussion after I leave.  Any recommendations? 

rwwh's picture
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If feedback leads to discussion you may be making it into too big of an issue. Is it feedback? Or is it a reprimand in disguise? Are you starting to apply the model with 100% positive feedback? 

Alternatively, you may just not be giving enough feedback: the members of your team that are not getting the feedback may wish they would also receive the extra personal attention!

Give feedback like breathing. After a while, nobody pays attention to feedback given to others any longer.


nicholasbarry's picture

Thanks, RWWH. Since posting this, and since seeing your reply, I've listened to a lot more of the feedback podcasts, which have reiterated the same point. I still need to improve how often I give feedback, but I no longer let it stop me that everyone is sitting near each other.

STEVENM's picture

Try staying mobile.  If you can't get privacy in the truest sense you can probably get it in the "Each person only hears 3 seconds of this.  IF they're paying attention at all." sense.

LindaS82's picture

I work in an office with open, low-walled cubicles.  I lean over the cubes or squat down next to people at their cubes and whisper feedback.  Some of the directs say this still makes them uncomfortable, because even though people can't hear what I'm saying, they can hear that I'm whispering and know I'm giving someone feedback.  There's really not a ton of other opportunities to give FB unless I follow people to the bathroom or only wait for one-on-ones- anyone else have this problem and have suggestions on what to do?