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On the Air With Palantir, Ep. 02: Building Better Internal Teams

Giving feedback on how someone works isn't always easy, especially when it comes to your colleagues. Nor is it easy to receive. But this act is very important for a number of reasons when done tactfully and constructively. Our Director of Operations Colleen Carroll talks about what works and what doesn't when both giving and receiving such feedback.

Giving feedback on how someone works isn't always easy, especially when it comes to your colleagues. Nor is it easy to receive. But this act is very important for a number of reasons when done tactfully and constructively. Our Director of Operations Colleen Carroll talks about what works and what doesn't when both giving and receiving such feedback.

Giving feedback on how someone works isn't always easy, especially when it comes to your colleagues. Nor is it easy to receive. But this act is very important for a number of reasons when done tactfully and constructively. Our Director of Operations Colleen Carroll talks about what works and what doesn't when both giving and receiving such feedback – not to mention the filters to consider when doing so – and the positive impact cultivating a culture of feedback can have for your internal teams. After all, it comes from the desire to improve something. How could your organization benefit from such a culture?

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Look for this interview-style format monthly on the second Thursday of the month, with accompanying short form installments that provide tips, resources, and other quick information via our Secret Sauce podcast every Tuesday.

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Allison Manley [AM]: Welcome to On the Air with Palantir, a podcast by where we go in -depth on topics related to the business of web design and development. It’s February 2016 and this is episode #2.
I’m Allison Manley, an Account Manager here, and today my guest is Colleen Carroll, our Director of Operations, who is here to speak with me about creating a culture of feedback. This is a topic that’s universal to all companies, large and small, no matter what the industry. When we work with our colleagues, it’s easy to give them positive feedback, right? You can tell someone that, hey, that tip you gave me really made my work life better today. But we often struggle with how to communicate with colleagues about how their process or their work habits can be improved. How do you do it thoughtfully and be able to work through issues that arise without alienating them? Colleen is going to speak about how she’s endeavored to create a culture here at Palantir that allows this process to happen.
Welcome, Colleen, and thank you for agreeing to speak with me about what I think is a super interesting topic. Admittedly not one that I have to think about every day in my work [laughs] since I’m not in your position. You are the Director of Operations, which means that you handle all human resource-related items, which is hiring, health insurance, vacation requests — basically keeping all of us employees happy [laughs]. But it also means that you give employee reviews, and you are the first person people go to when there is a personality conflict or something similar. So it’s a tough job. Right?
Colleen Carroll [CC]: I wouldn’t say it’s a tough job, but you are correct in that I cover all of those things [laughs].
AM: I know you’ve invested a ton of time — years, essentially — and thought into making Palantir a really comfortable, engaging and positive place to work. You really think about how employees here can advance themselves as well, and set themselves up for success, and support each other to make everyone stronger. Which is terrific and one of the reasons I like being here myself. Part of that is also being able to provide them feedback on the work they are doing, and  encouraging them to give feedback to others, and setting up a culture of feedback within the workplace. So let’s answer the question: what is feedback?
CC: For me, the definition of feedback has changed quite a bit. Right now where I stand in my definition of feedback is that it’s the desire to improve something, and being able to communicate that and receive that. To be able to give feedback to somebody and to receive feedback from somebody, in an effort to improve something.
AM: You said to me that there’s two levels to feedback. There’s learning how to give it, and also learning how to filter it.
CC: That’s right. I think a lot of times people feel that feedback is about telling somebody that you don’t like the way they’ve done something. Feedback is so much more important than that, in my opinion. It’s where your desire is to improve something — you want something to become better. And you commit to that. So in order for that feedback to be powerful, you have to be compassionate as the giver of feedback, but also be compassionate and have empathy for the person receiving that feedback. It’s about building trust and doing that through communication, and by doing that you can have a candid conversation about things that are going on, your desires for improvement, and committing to that process. So it’s more than just driving by and saying that you like or dislike something. It’s about saying why you liked that, and providing constructive feedback about things you think can improve, and why you care about it.
AM: Palantir is a company of 30 employees right now, and there is a commonality among all companies where when they hit a certain size, they become less the start-up fun informal culture, much more loose, and become more staid and bureaucratic. They have to add some levels of procedure. And it’s at this point where feedback and communication starts to become critical.
CC: Yes, the reason why there’s a shift at the 15 to 30 mark is that because structure and process is so informal under 15. You can spread what you value, what your vision is for the company — those things are easy to talk about and communicate about. But when you get to be larger it just becomes more challenging to have those conversations, and to demonstrate the things you value as individuals. And that’s something that we saw change as we grew. It made it harder. And then we were distributed as well, we weren’t all in the same place, so we didn’t get to see how people interacted every day. When you have constant and consistent communication, it’s easy to know what to give feedback on, because you’re trying to improve stuff probably based in values. So if you’re lacking a clear vision, if you’re not communicating consistently and repeatedly reinforcing the values, you almost don’t have a common thread to communicate about, and therefore also to provide feedback about. So it’s working on all of those things as the company grows, making sure that everyone knows: what do we value as a company? Where are we headed? And what do we want to provide feedback about? And then it’s encouraging and demonstrating that.
And as you get larger as a company you have to put some process and structure in place, and in some ways providing feedback to the team that, okay, we can provide more feedback [laughs]. I know it sounds so silly, and it truly is so obvious, but it’s actually hard because people take it for granted that feedback is important, both positive and constructive. And this is not unique to Palantir. That’s unique to American culture — maybe other cultures too — that people hold back feedback for fear of hurting somebody’s feelings or of another insecurity on their own part or of something they perceive as happening on the other end, instead of just giving what is objective feedback — here is what I observed and the impact of what I saw, can we talk about it? Instead of, well, what you did was wrong and you should have done it this way. That’s not committing to the person or even having empathy for that person and why they made that decision. Not understanding how you can help them improve on that or make that better.
AM: So we need to become more Vulcan [laughs] where we strip the emotion out of it and become more logical, but do it in a way that’s not accusatory.
CC: Well, it’s interesting because it is and it isn’t. I think you have to be more Spock than Vulcan. You have to have both those sides. That’s his big struggle, because he’s got the one side that is so objective, but when he uses his empathy, when he uses his emotions, he can connect better, and understand the situations that people are in and provide feedback that’s more meaningful. So you have to have both. I think it’s important to deliver it objectively, but demonstrate the empathy and the compassion for the person. But there’s a self-awareness as well, which hits at both sides. As a giver of feedback, are you aware of the way you’re communicating? Are you aware of how the person is receiving that information? Are they feeling defensive, are they feeling energized? How is the feedback being received, and is it hitting the goal you had in the first place for giving that feedback? And then vice versa, as the receiver of feedback. What are your triggers, what are your insecurities, what gets you excited? Are you ready to ask more questions? That self-awareness on both sides is so important, because it builds trust, which increases communication, which helps everybody move toward the goal at hand.
AM: I’m so glad I got a Star Trek analogy in there, first of all [laughs].
CC: You’re welcome. You can thank my dad for my formative years [laughs].
AM: But it sounds like therapy in a way too.
CC: It absolutely is. It’s no different. Sometimes I think we make things so procedural. And I don’t mean “we” as in Palantir — we as a team have things we can improve on. I mean we as people. We try to add process to make things simpler and we lose the human component. And the reality is, we don’t just work with computers, we work with people. And different things impact people in different ways, and all of those things are valid. And understanding those motivators is important. I am incredibly receptive to feedback. Some feedback can destroy me, and I feel paralyzed by it, but I kind of percolate on it in the background, it takes me a few days, and I move through that process very quickly. And not everybody does. Everyone processes what can be challenging feedback in different ways. But I know that when someone comes to me with feedback, and they check in with me later about that conversation that we had — to make sure that I understood it, but also to make sure that they’re demonstrating their commitment to me, that they’re giving this to me not because they’re upset with the way I did something and I shouldn’t do it again. They see the potential for me to improve. Having that support makes me want to grab onto that feedback like it’s gold. Thank you! This is amazing! Because you gave this to me, now I can do something better. I can understand the impact of some actions that didn’t come across the way I expected them to.
I keep talking in the sense of some more constructive feedback, but positive feedback is also important. Getting someone coming and telling you, hey, that thing you just did, that just changed the way I saw this other situation, I’m so thankful. That reinforces for you as the receiver of that feedback that you should continue to do that, and do that for others. If you’re not getting any kind of feedback, then you don’t know what progress you’re making, in your role, in your life, in your relationships, in all things.
AM: So if you just do something and you get no feedback at all — I mean, there is the phrase that no news is good news, but there’s a point where it’s just a vacuum and you’re not sure if what you’re doing is being received in any way.
CC: That’s right. And being a distributed company, especially, it means you have to go the extra effort to make sure that you don’t unintentionally create a vacuum. Because we’re not in the office together, we don’t get that informal passing in the hallway of, hey, that thing you did yesterday, that was so great. When you don’t have those interactions in the same way, you have to find a different way to have similar interactions, to build relationships with the team that you work with. Feedback is so important because it allows you to understand the bigger picture, especially if it’s anchored in a vision or a purpose and the values that we share. It makes that feedback so much more powerful.
AM: So how is feedback best delivered then?
CC: I did quite a bit of research, and this is a list that I pulled together from a number of sources. But for me, the things that make feedback best delivered are when it’s timely, it’s direct, and it’s specific. And what I mean by that is, if you’re trying to give feedback and you say, you didn’t do that well — that doesn’t give the person anything actionable. You have to describe the action or the behavior and its impact, and then allow them to come to a solution. But you have to be specific enough — this thing on this project, not a general statement. Also, it’s important that you ask permission. Don’t just walk up to somebody and say, hey, I didn’t like that thing over here, don’t do that again. That’s not good because you don’t even know where that person was at or what they were doing, or if they’re able to receive that feedback — particularly in the case where it’s constructive feedback. Showing compassion to the person you’re giving the feedback to, saying, I have some feedback I’d like to give to you, when would be a good time? Allow them to control the environment they’re in, so they can be the most receptive. You don’t want to give feedback to somebody who’s not receptive, because it’s not going to go anywhere. You’re not going to hit the goal of helping improve a situation. I personally feel that face to face or one on one, like in a video chat, is beneficial because it allows for a conversation to happen and for the person receiving the feedback to understand better.
AM: Definitely not by email.
CC: I definitely do not encourage email at all. Maybe the first note — hey, I have some feedback to give you, and then set up a time — that would be okay. But I don’t like email because if you’re not building a relationship at that point and you’re not going to hit the goal, what was the point of giving the feedback in the first place?
AM: Plus I feel email can be so easily misconstrued at times, depending on how it’s read.
CC: Oh yeah. You can say one phrase to someone even in person, and someone can get caught off guard. But then you have the chance to explain, well, let me say a little bit more about what I meant, and allow that person to absorb what you’re trying to say.
AM: And sarcasm comes across really clearly in person but not so much in emails [laughs].
CC: Yeah, I don’t recommend sarcasm in any kind of feedback [laughs]. Unless you really know the person, it’s probably not a really good idea. Because you want it to be direct, you want it to be honest, but you want it to be supportive as well.
There’s so many things about feedback for it to be good. It should be actionable, because you’re giving feedback for a purpose. So make it something that the person can actually impact, or explain it in such a way that they can have an impact on it. And remember that you should give positive feedback too. Don’t just give the constructive feedback all the time. People need both. They need to know how they can improve, but they also need to know the things they are doing that are working really well. That’s part of the full process of life, I think.
AM: We know it’s impossible for everybody to get along. We all have different personalities. We’re all different people. Someone might just annoy you, but you have to work with them. And you have to find a way. So how can you best give feedback to someone when they just annoy you like crazy?
CC: I think first you have to ask yourself: why does this person annoy you? You don’t go into a conversation, or don’t go to give feedback, and say, hey, you’re super annoying to me. Because what was your goal? What was your purpose in giving that feedback? Do you actually want them to stop being annoying? Then you should probably figure out what it is that’s actually annoying you. And through that process, you may find that it’s something that actually relates to you, and not that person. Or you may find that it’s something that’s actionable, like the way that the person communicates. And it’s maybe that they specifically use words that are not clear. Or sometimes people speak in analogies, and it’s not direct, and you’re like, I don’t relate to any of these analogies, I’m not following you. Or maybe the person consistently takes up two hours of your time to talk about something that’s not related to something else. To me, that’s an issue of, one, you should have put some boundaries on your time, and set expectations, and two, give feedback to that person that says, hey, listen, you know, when we have meetings, our conversations always run very long and then I’m not able to focus on some of the other work that I need to do. But I think that these conversations are valuable, so can we find a different way to manage them, to keep them to a half-hour, because I just can’t commit that much time.
It depends on what the situation is, but this is where the self-awareness piece comes in. What is it that you’re feeling, and why, and can you bring some objectivity to it? Can you understand that? And can you figure out what is actionable on the other person’s part? But most specifically, what’s the goal? What are you trying to do in giving that feedback? If you just really dislike somebody, don’t give them that feedback. What are you trying to achieve with that? That’s not for work, at least. If you want to do that in your personal life, that’s fine [laughs]. But at work, you show respect to your colleagues, and you do that by giving them constructive and actionable feedback.
AM: I think it’s so interesting that you use ‘positive’ and ‘constructive’ instead of ‘positive’ and ‘negative’.
CC: It’s very deliberate [laughs]. ‘Negative’ sets the wrong tone. I’m a huge proponent of positive reinforcement. It can be used in a number of different ways, but feedback that is delivered mostly when there’s “don’t”s or “no”s or “but”s — you’re not actually telling them the desired behavior, or the desired actions. You’re telling them all the things that they’re doing wrong, and that doesn’t give them a path or a journey to understand what good looks like, what helpful looks like. So ‘constructive’, for me, gets back to the objectivity. What is the behavior that was causing some type of impact, whether that was an amazing impact or a negative impact? And if it was a negative impact, can you also still provide that in a constructive way? Such as, when you say something this way, it has this impact on the team. That’s a way for them to understand that an action that they did caused this impact. It doesn’t talk about the intent that the person who was talking had, because in some ways that doesn’t matter. It’s more about, you did this action and it hurt people’s feelings. Sometimes people do things and they don’t realize that they’re hurting people’s feelings, for example.
It’s not easy, I will say that. It’s challenging to give constructive feedback. But I have an art background and I went through critiques forever [laughs] so while it’s still not easy for me, I kind of love it. People give you feedback about your art work and say, this doesn’t resonate with me, or, the way you painted this tree, it looks like an elephant. But that’s important to know, because is what you are doing sending the message that you intended it to? If it isn’t, you should probably try something different, because you’re not hitting your desired outcome. And when you receive constructive feedback, then you can improve it and you can be more successful.
AM: The challenge for constructive feedback a lot of the time is in how it’s phrased. It can come across as accusatory, but if you phrase it differently, it can come across as helpful. And that can be a very fine line [laughs]. So how can we phrase feedback to make it less adversarial?
CC: Two phrases that I very much like, I originally got from Ken, our director of professional services. I used to go to him for advice on how to do this, and my research only confirmed that he was absolutely right. And the way that you do it is with two phrases: ‘I observed’ or ‘I noticed’. Those are the two that I anchor to the most. There’s probably a zillion other ways you could do it, but by saying ‘I observed this, and it had this impact, or it affected me in this way, or it affected others in this way’, it helps you stay objective and it helps you stay constructive. And it takes your emotions out of it. It’s okay to mention if somebody else’s emotions were impacted, but you’re trying to deliver feedback about the behavior. So by saying ‘I observed that this happened’, that gets it across much easier.
AM: But you also want to be careful about introducing a third person’s feelings, too, because you don’t want to say, ‘I observed that Jane was crying because you said X’, or something similar [laughs].
CC: Let me think for a moment on how to handle that one. ‘I observed that some comments you made potentially had an emotional impact on somebody’. But then again you don’t want to go to the point of saying ‘Have you talked to them? Can you talk to them? How do you feel about that?’ It’s important to express that this action happened, this thing happened, and I wanted to bring that to you because I thought that you would be interested in knowing that it had this impact, or that it affected someone in this particular way. It’s more just about that. But then if the person you’re giving the feedback to wants to talk through that more, that’s great. Allow yourself to be available to that person. However, don’t also think that they’re going to want to talk to you about all of that, because that could be very private, that could be very personal — that could be very challenging for them, even. And you are not their therapist [laughs], you are a giver of feedback, which is different.
AM: Let’s walk through an example of good and bad feedback. You’ve mentioned a couple as we have been talking, but give me an example of good feedback.
CC: I can give you one that relates to me — that will resonate the most. Some very good constructive feedback that I received recently is about my communication style. And it’s that when I phrased something a particular way, it came off as though I was not taking ownership over my actions. And that was actually never my intent. The person who was giving me this feedback said, that statement is actually in the passive voice, and active voice does not actually have that problem. So it was an interesting realization for me because I am an informal communicator, and I very much speak in the passive, both verbally and in writing. And this was really good feedback, but it was hard to receive at first, because I thought to myself, wow, that’s not how I meant it to come out, I’m really serious about what I was trying to communicate, and I take full responsibility over my decisions — why did it come across in this way? And what I understood in that feedback was that it’s not about your intent — it’s about the style of communication that you use, the mode that you communicate in. And because I use passive voice so often, I’m not actually expressing my intent. So one of the things I have to work on as a human being is understanding how to be myself, but to use more active voice. And it’s funny, this is probably the third time I’ve received this feedback. In the past, it was just in regards to my writing style. I’m not a writer — I’m visual, I’m a painter, I’m a sewer, I like to talk. But when it comes to writing, that’s never been my strong suit. And I know that when I do write, it’s super wordy and it’s definitely in the passive voice. I find that when I switch to the active voice, all of a sudden, I’m understood more clearly and I don’t have to repeat myself as often. And it’s taken me years to realize that. But someone actually unlocked that feedback for me recently by helping me understand that difference between active voice and passive voice. That’s been hugely powerful for me.
AM: That’s interesting, because more than a year ago there was a client who gave me and other people on the team a PowerPoint presentation on, this is how I tick and here is how to work with me. And it sort of makes me wonder if it wouldn’t hurt for employees to make a five-page deck on, here is how I like to receive feedback, here are my likes and dislikes and this is how you can best work with me. Like maybe when you onboard a new employee, every time we have a ‘this is how I tick’.
CC: The way I can see that being impactful is to say, hey, you’re new to Palantir. We value a culture of feedback. We value the fact that feedback is important, it helps us do things better. It helps us make better mistakes tomorrow and constantly iterate, and all of that. But we also acknowledge that it’s hard and that it’s a commitment, but if everyone’s doing it, then you have the support of everybody. I don’t want the culture at Palantir to be one where you’re not allowed to make mistakes. And I mean that even in giving feedback. It’s so easy to misstep on the words that you choose, or not be considering intent versus how it was actually received. I want to know that our team can say, thank you for that feedback, here’s how it felt to receive that feedback — I think this is actually what I meant, can you engage with me in a dialogue with me about that better? Or, more specifically, hey, thank you for that feedback, it’s not actionable, I can’t do anything with it. That’s you as a receiver giving feedback back. And for some people that may not happen right away — for me sometimes it takes up to 24 hours before I have a follow-up question, but knowing that I can go back to that person is going to be key. So I think we have to talk about it. If we believe in a culture of feedback as members of the Palantir team, it means building a relationship with the people you work with, and helping them understand how you tick. What is it that you like? Are you better at communicating through HipChat, or through email, or in person? Because somebody might prefer email. Or they might prefer HipChat because it helps them — there’s something really interesting about HipChat, because when you’re chatting with somebody else, you can talk about a lot of things, but it’s in writing. You can sit and review it a couple of times and then ask appropriate questions, rather than being defensive. If someone’s in there in person and it’s a very intense topic, sometimes it can just be challenging. Some people work better in a format like chat. And I think that should be allowed. It shouldn’t be one way. Depending on who the giver is and the receiver is of that feedback, the communication style of the relationship has to change. Because it has to match both.
AM: I kind of wonder — we’re obviously a small firm of 30 and we’re mostly made up of engineers of various types, whether we’re front end developers or others, but we’re also designers and there’s some who are more administrative. As we mentioned before, those of us who have been through art school, you and myself included [laughs], are painfully practiced in how to accept feedback [laughs]. But other people may not be. And then there’s so much dependent on the personality of the person as well, regardless of whether you went through critiques in art school or not. So I wonder if you have found any sort of commonalities between types of people, how they handle feedback better than other groups.
CC: You know, I haven’t, and I think the reason for that is that so much impacts your ability to receive feedback. Just like so many things impact your ability to be a strong communicator – everything from your childhood years to your family model to the type of education that you had, the discipline that you had, there’s so many different pieces that come into play. My parents very much talked about their emotions all of the time, and my dad would talk about things he would go through with work, and feedback that he had heard and how it was given, and he would problem-solve in front of us. That behavior demonstrated for me that that’s a normal part of life, like, doesn’t everybody do that? And I’ve learned in the different jobs that I’ve had and the different people that I’ve met in life that they’ve had different experiences and different styles of communication.  So I don’t think there are buckets, or even a predictable pattern to go by. But what I do know is that it doesn’t actually matter, as people come into Palantir, if they’re good receivers or givers of feedback. What matters is how we as a company enforce that we value it and that it’s something you have to practice. And that you’re going to get a lot of mistakes before you get it right, and knowing that everyone around you values that experience, and that they will support you through it if you make a mistake — then why wouldn’t you try it out? No one expects you to be a rock star on Day One here. Definitely not [laughs].
AM: But you know, extending this practice to other companies — there are a lot of other companies where they don’t accept that. And that’s the challenge. They feel threatened if they try to get feedback from someone. It’s almost, what are the repercussions if I try to give feedback to my boss, or my boss gives feedback to me, right? It really becomes confrontational, and then there’s a lot of fear. So it’s something I really personally appreciate about here, the fact that there is a lot of communication going on. That’s not always the case, and I think the larger the company gets, the harder it is to implement.
CC: Definitely. And there’s no doubt that at Palantir — I don’t know if this is because of our roots in open source, but it’s certainly what Tiffany and George value as well. It’s always been about an open conversation. And I came to Palantir for that reason. I could tell. So I knew that I would get feedback on what I was doing, so I could get better. And that’s exactly why I wanted to come here. I think you’re right, there are a lot of other companies, places and institutions, where feedback is not encouraged, especially upward. And it’s not easy to receive, either. Being a manager and receiving feedback from your direct reports is a delicate topic, but at Palantir it’s important that that feedback loop is there. And I think the key is still to ask if you can have permission to do that — can I give you some feedback? And be mindful about what it means to be given that feedback, what it’s going to be like for that person to receive that feedback. I think there’s also a smaller component of asking — is the feedback that you’re giving appropriate too? Especially when you’re moving from levels of structure in a company. Obviously at Palantir we’re working on having a richer culture of feedback here, but we have to be mindful about our clients. Just because we’re committed to it here and doing a really good job of it, doesn’t mean that — we have to build relationships with our client, the same way that we build relationships with ourselves here. So when you do build a relationship of giving feedback with somebody, it can get to a point where you can get really critical, but that’s a relationship that you may have set with that person, we’ve gotten to a point where we can talk about anything, and no one gets upset — it’s just great, it’s just refreshing. But that’s a relationship thing. That’s not a, oh, I just gave this feedback and you should be able to receive it. When we’re working with our clients it’s important to understand their ability to receive that feedback. Is it a part of their culture, and what are you trying to achieve in giving this feedback, and are you going to hit that goal? And if not, maybe you should think about another way. Is there a different way that you can strengthen that relationship so that the feedback can be delivered?
AM: Setting up a happy environment in the workplace will permeate into your clients as well. If you’re able to have open communication within, that facilitates open communication externally. And then it creates a much more supportive environment overall. But that’s something I hadn’t considered at all, that maybe since our company’s roots are based in open source, the whole idea of open dialogue has just always been there.
CC: Absolutely. I think my first days as a developer at Palantir — I knew that’s what I was getting into, but I really didn’t know what that was like, to experience that. And because I had been through art school, I knew what it was like to have someone come in and tell you what actually is negative feedback, not really constructive feedback [laughs]. So I was ready, okay, I know how not to cry [laughs].
AM: “That pink color bothers me.” [laughs]
CC: “You’re a horrible painter”, or whatever [laughs]. I can think of some doozies that I’ve heard. In art school, you learn how to defend yourself. And that’s actually not the goal here, right? We’re not looking to be on the defense. We’re looking to be responsive as the receivers of feedback, and to understand, what is it that’s happening? What is it that this person who’s giving me feedback is trying to say? And do I understand the position that they’re in? There’s so much of a bigger picture, it’s not just a judging panel. Because we work with everybody every day, we spend so much time here, you have to have a deeper relationship. But I remember my first days as a front-end developer here, and things like my coding standards that no one had given me feedback on in a way that was actionable — to have someone come in and say, all of these things are wrong for this reason, and here’s some documentation on how it can hit this goal, whether it’s performance or accessibility or different things. Sometimes I liken it to playing a video game. When you play some more traditional video games, where you can see how many lives you have left, and what your score is, you have real-time feedback about how you’re doing. So you’re able to build a strategy right at that point in time. And without that information, without that positive and constructive feedback, you don’t know if you’re hitting the goals that you set out for yourself and the goals that have been set out for you or the role that you play in this company or in this culture.
AM: It’s interesting, I guess that’s why FitBits are so popular, because — how am I doing? How am I doing? [laughs]
CC: Yes, it can get a little obsessive, that’s the downside. Sometimes you just need to relax and trust yourself too. But I think, again, when you can build a feedback loop, you can start to trust yourself and people can start to trust you. You can’t build trust by never talking to each other. Whether that’s through feedback or not, I think that’s so important to build relationships with the people that you work with and understand what motivates them, and make sure they understand what motivates you and how you best communicate and receive information, and vice versa. Because the goal is to do things better together, not independently [laughs]. You’re not going to get that far on your own.
AM: Better communication. Always.
CC: Definitely.
AM: Thank you, Colleen.
CC: Thank you, Allison.
AM: Thank you so much for listening. Since this episode is being released close to Valentine’s Day, we hope you all get great feedback to create a more happy workplace. If you want to hear more episodes of On the Air with Palantir, make sure to subscribe on our website at There you can also read our blog and see our work! Each of these episodes is also available on iTunes. And of course you can also follow us on twitter at @palantir.

 Thanks for listening!

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