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5 Tips to Deliver Project Feedback That Sticks

WFM_Feedback_NoteProviding constructive project feedback to an agency team member or even client is a sensitive subject, whether it be a blog post, designs or strategy. This is especially true for the non-confrontational among us.

As a manager, your job is to get high-quality work done to the client’s satisfaction, on time, all while teaching team members and maintaining morale. A Herculean task that requires you make an art and science out of reviewing and editing team member work. 

Consider the following 5 tips for delivering feedback on your next project.

1. Make Feedback a Part of the Process 

Take note of when projects are due to the client, and work backwards to develop a timeline of when drafts and reviews are due. This will help ensure feedback is delivered in a timely manner, and give team members the time necessary to review your feedback and learn from it; instead of accepting all edits just to get it done.

Next, use a project management tool to assign to dos. A checklist of when project drafts and reviews are due will help keep the project, and you on track. 

Finally, encourage team members to manage up and send email reminders, or coordinate office protests with picket signs, if you miss your due dates.

2. Keep It Consolidated

If there are multiple parties offering feedback, avoid confusion and contradictory comments by consolidating feedback in one document or thread. A side benefit is you may also foster collaboration amongst team members and the client. 

Use a document management tool, like Google Drive, Box or DropBox, for document edits and comments. This enables all involved parties to access and review the most up-to-date version, track changes and add comments right to the document for everyone involved to review.

Also, employ a project management tool that allows for commenting threads on a specific job or project. These comment threads will consolidate all relevant feedback in one central location, give everyone access to the entire conversation and offer each a chance to voice their opinions.

Tech Tip: Look for a project management tool, like WorkflowMax, that enables you to automatically copy email messages into these comment threads. 

3. Start and End on a Positive Note

Expressing to anyone that his or her work needs, well, work, is never comfortable. Keep morale top of mind as you offer your constructive criticism. Lead with the positive feedback to soften the blow, followed by what you feel needs to be updated or improved.

After presenting your feedback, if the team member appears deflated, or the feedback was more critical than congratulatory, re-enforce the positives and offer some encouraging words to keep them motivated.

4. Don’t Hide the Message

While you want the vibe to be positive, it’s important to not sugar coat or skirt around pressing issues. After all, the whole point of feedback is to help your team, and the project improve.

In Creativity, Inc. Ed Catmull, president of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation, discusses how Pixar replaced the word, “honesty” for “candor” when discussing feedback. Catmull believes calling it “honest feedback” allows for people to hold back their criticisms to preserve people’s feelings. On the other hand, “candid feedback” means truth telling with a lack of reserve, setting expectations appropriately. 

Set precedence with your team that “candid feedback” is what will be given and expected from everyone. When offered in a safe, nurturing environment, candor isn’t mean, it’s an opportunity to harness a team’s collective brainpower.

5. Get to the Point: Speak With Specific Purpose

On the receiving end, your teammates will want to know three things from project feedback:

  1. What did I do well?
  2. What needs improvement?
  3. What are my next steps for success?

Don’t overwhelm them with unnecessary or irrelevant details. Focus on these three points, and be specific and concise with your feedback. Tell your team members what they need to know.

Feedback is a powerful tool that when delivered with care in a timely manner can have significant effects on both your team and client work. Take the time to implement the tips above to ensure you are maximizing the impact of your project feedback.

How do you like to receive feedback? Share with us in the comment section below.

Image Source: Alan Levine under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.0 Generic