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How to Give Better Feedback



Effective communication is a critical part of a successful workplace whether it is in a church, a nonprofit, a school, or a corporate setting. Feedback is a critical part of our own personal growth and if done correctly can be an important part to the. growth of your team and those that you lead. My particular experience is unique because I am a creative and those that have been on my team are usually creatives. Creatives are sometimes described as artist or one that sees the world a little differently. So, as a leader of creatives, it is important to understand a little of how we communicate or receive feedback from others. When receiving feedback, creatives hear things like this all the time:

“I like it. It’s good.”

“It just doesn’t work.”

“I’ll know it when I see it.”

“Make it edgier.”

To borrow from Brene Brown – to be clear is to be kind. If you want to arrive at the needed creative solution, you must give honest, clear feedback. As we approach the new year and as you plan and prepare to grow and develop your teams, don't forget that the goal of your feedback is to help others improve or grow in a particular area of their leadership or their work. So, here are a few tips to help make the feedback process a little smoother and a lot more beneficial especially when working with creatives.

Use the brief. The creative brief should detail the project goals and give some direction. This is a great place to start as you determine if the creative output is in line with what was requested.

Be specific. This is not just for the things you don’t like. Be specific about what you DO like. The more specific you can be, the more you’re going to help your creative arrive at a final solution that works.

Express your why. Being specific isn’t enough. You should be able to clearly articulate why specific components are or aren’t working. Again, the brief is a great place to start.

Let your creatives be creative. It’s best to define the problem using each of the things mentioned above, but be careful not to be overly prescriptive with a solution. As you give feedback, see how it’s being received and proceed from there. It’s likely they’ll start throwing out potential solutions you can discuss together, or they may simply ask for your thoughts on a solution.

Be honest. The best way to arrive at a solution that works for all parties and to maintain trust is to be honest. Don’t sugarcoat the truth. This also is for both positive and negative feedback. Don’t give praise you don’t mean, as that will lead to confusion. Sometimes hard feedback is needed, but it is possible to do it with gentleness.

Don’t change something just to change something. I had someone who used to do this to my work. The best I could tell was that they simply wanted to make sure their fingerprint was on every single thing. At a design conference I attended, Stephen Gates once said something that really resonated with me: “It’s not your job to saturate the world in your version of good.” What he meant was, there is more than one “right way” or solution when it comes to solving creative problems. Leave your personal preferences out of it. Does it have to be your way? If so, have a great why for that too.

The ability to give clear and effective feedback, even when it’s negative, will help you arrive at a shared solution faster, keep your team motivated, and build trust.

If our team can be of any help to your organization this year when it comes to developing a healthier work environment, or improving the workplace culture, or if you need help specifically with the relationship between you and your creative team, developing a creative leader, or need someone to assess the blind spots in your organization, our team is here to help. let’s talk!

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