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I got some pretty "unspecific" feedback. How can I sharpen it to make more actionable?

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Junior Software Engineer at Small Company2 years ago

One of the tips for processing feedback is “to convert it into action items”.

What should you do if you don’t really know what to do with the high-level feedback you get?

Example: I got the feedback that other engineers don’t think that I understand the framework/library we’re working with deeply, not understanding the patterns and whys behind things that we do in our project, not knowing how to use different/“better” patterns.

Unfortunately, they didn’t give me a specific example, so I’m unsure on how to convert this into an action item.

We don't have mentors, so there isn't anybody who can "teach" me, except learning from code reviews, asking to do more pair programming, etc.

My idea would be to study up on “design patterns”/best practices for the framework we’re using, but I’m unclear on if that would really solve the issue.



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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    2 years ago
    • Ask for code pointers of yours where they think you didn't show sufficient technical mastery
    • Flip the dynamic and ask for code pointers to ideal code that they think champions the technical depth principles they mentioned. Once you have a stellar example, you can just emulate your code after that example.
    • If you know who left the feedback, consider just having a 1:1 meeting with them to discuss it where you can get the above context more directly and efficiently. Make it clear that you treat all feedback as a gift, and you already appreciate the "starter" feedback you have gotten. It's in their best interest to make you a more effective coworker who writes better code!
    • The quickest ask is for pointers to high-level resources, so you can address this feedback. Maybe there's a book, video series, or blog they really like that covers this framework/library, which they can just link you to consume.
    • If things get really awkward, you can use your manager as a conduit to do this feedback gathering exercise for you.
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    Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    2 years ago

    It's important to be deliberate about proactively following up and acknowledging the feedback, even if it's vague. For example, in the next code review, could you write an extra paragraph explaining why you chose the approach you have? This proves that you're thoughtful about the best practices.

    Then tag the person and get their feedback. At the very least, they'll appreciate the work you put in, and at best, this will convince them that you know your stuff.

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