Feedback buddies

Organizations and leaders often talk to their employees to give them ongoing feedback, but are there comfortable models for peers to give each other regular feedback? Feedback buddies is one model we use at Poll Everywhere to give and receive peer feedback.

What are feedback buddies?

A feedback buddy is a peer who interacts with you and the rest of your coworkers on a daily basis. You are their feedback buddy too. It’s a partnership of trust. This is different from being a manager. Feedback buddies are coworkers committed to each other’s growth.

  • They observe each other in meetings.
  • They observe the other’s work.
  • They give feedback on a set day of the week.
  • Most importantly: they commit to keeping the other’s best interests at heart.

How do I get a feedback buddy?

The best way is to ask directly. An ideal choice is someone who has skills in an area you are trying to improve, or surprisingly, someone you don’t trust. These are the ideals, but anyone you work with can be a source of insightful feedback.

Pick a day

Having a set day for feedback to be coming in and going out prepares you to be receptive. It removes the element of surprise. Friday works well because it gives your buddy time over the weekend to process the feedback.

Why is getting feedback helpful?

Let’s discuss the value of feedback.

Career growth

Understanding where you are currently and actionable improvements are one of the best ways to grow. However, self-reflection comes with your personal bias. An external perspective helps balance your thoughts with perceptions from other people.

It creates material for self-reflection

Self-reflections become easier to write when you have a concrete list of feedback received over time. You can make your growth more objective by including the steps you took to incorporate a peer’s suggestion.

It teaches leadership skills

Giving feedback is a core leadership skill. It builds rapport and trust. While your feedback buddy’s actions aren’t a complete reflection of your efforts; you will get some credit for their growth when it’s related to your feedback.

Building and teaching your teammate helps multiply your efforts. When your teammate is more successful, the team is more successful, and the company is more successful.

It creates a relationship of trust

Feedback buddies are a powerful tool to build trust. Trust is built on liking a person and transparency. While you are giving your feedback, including what they are doing well, and where they can improve.

  • Telling someone where they can improve creates transparency.
      • The person will get a clear picture of what is on your mind, and learn what you think they should be doing differently.

    The person can ask for clarification on the feedback and ask for more context.

    • You become the person’s development partner. The person can brainstorm with you actionable next steps to resolve the feedback.
    • You two can track how they have made progress over time.
    • Keeping their best interest in mind removes ulterior motives.
  • Tell the person what they are doing well helps you like each other.
    • The person will be encouraged and motivated to continue their good behavior.
    • If you don’t have a strong relationship, reminding yourself what they do well helps you rebuild your mental image of them.

What does feedback look like?

There isn’t a hard rule for what form feedback can come in. It can be as simple as

  1. What did the person do well?
  2. What can the person improve?
  3. Overall how are they doing?
Feedback Example

Hi Ryan, it’s Friday which means… feedback time!

The good

I think you did an excellent job in the meetings this week. When Sandra seemed confused about the expectations for the project, you did an excellent job of course correcting the situation. I really liked how you asked her what her current understanding of the project was before trying to guide her. That shows artful skills in emotional intelligence.

Room for improvement

You get really excited about projects and execute them very quickly. I think you could improve our organization and multiply your efforts by documenting as you go along. That way, if you are on PTO, we aren’t completely lost. It is a good opportunity for you to show you leadership skills, by making leaders out of others.


You are an AWESOME teammate. I love how you care about the success of this project. That excitement really is contagious!

Following up

Storing your feedback is helpful during reviews. To keep your feedback organized, I suggest using a spreadsheet.

I like to keep a record of:

  • Person: The person who gave the feedback.
  • Date: When they gave the feedback.
  • Context: Why they gave the feedback.
  • Feedback: What the feedback was.
  • Action items: What you plan to do with this information.
  • Measurable actions towards feedback: What you actually did with the information.

As you can see, Feedback Buddies is a comfortable model for receiving feedback. It focuses not only on your improvement but creates a partnership with your buddy on their improvement. It fosters a great working relationship.