Is Feedback Throwing a Wrench in Your Workflow?
Even the most rock-solid creative production processes can feel the negative effects of unproductive feedback habits—especially when you consider what marketing and creative professionals can expect from the industry moving forward.
A recent Content Marketing Institute report found that 76% of marketers plan to produce more content in 2016. And industry leaders are predicting that what’s produced will rely on cross-discipline collaboration more than ever.
In other words, in order to be successful in the near future, creatives and marketers alike will need to produce more, and collaborate better.
Changing behaviors is never an easy task, but not taking steps to correct unproductive collaboration habits can have serious implications. Miscommunication, inaccuracies, delayed deliveries, and internal angst will eventually effect the quality and quantity of your team’s creative output.
So how you can remove the feedback wrench in your workflow? Start by identifying the types of unproductive feedback-givers your team encounters. Then, help them break their habits.
Her Bad Habit: “Good job-s,” “nice work-s”—and not a whole lot else. Everyone loves a good compliment, but a collaborator who never has any criticism isn’t doing your team any favors. A Harvard Business Review recently found that 57% of people prefer corrective feedback to praise. That’s because most creatives rely on constructive criticism for project next steps and directions for improvement. Repeatedly hearing “good job” isn’t useful because it’s not specific—or actionable.
How to Break It: Delivering negative feedback is challenge for many people. That same Harvard Business Review study found that the majority of respondents tend to avoid giving negative feedback. If you’re consistently receiving non-specific praise from one of your collaborators, it might be time to take a look at your collaboration culture. People who have a tendency to avoid negative feedback are often easily intimidated by situations that feel closed-off. Ask yourself: Are you encouraging open dialogue? Are you responding well to other collaborators’ feedback?
Do This Doug
His Bad Habit: Giving orders instead of feedback. It’s easy to fall in to a routine of receiving direction and revising accordingly, especially when it’s delivered in such a straightforward manner. But plain orders offer far less opportunity for improvement than truly collaborative feedback delivered with context. In fact, HBR reports that 92% of people believe that negative/redirecting feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.
How to Break It: Do This Doug is already comfortable with delivering negative feedback, so encouraging him to provide more context can be accomplished by some simple re-direction. Spencer Harrison, Ph.D., Boston College, recently published a Science Daily article on feedback interactions in a creative setting. He found that “you should do this, you should do that” feedback isn’t effective—but asking open-ended questions, like “what would happen if we thought about it this way?” can help. “This fine kind of analogical and metaphorical thinking, the curiosity questions, really spurred the conversations to move things,” he says.
His Bad Habit: Overly- focusing on the details of early versions—instead of the big picture. If you collaborate with a Nitpicky Nick, you’re all-too-familiar with having works-in-progress critiqued as if they were final versions. That kind of feedback can be extremely unproductive, costing your team time and effort and preventing you from receiving the type of actionable feedback you actually need to direct the project’s next steps.
How to Break It: Collaborators can only know as much as you tell them, so arm them with relevant information about what you’re looking for from them at the current stage in the project ahead of time. 42 Floors founder Jason Freedman originally shared the idea of 30 percent feedback in a blog post. “I once asked [my investor] for feedback on a product mockup, and he asked if I felt like I was 90 percent done or 30 percent done,” explains Jason. “If I was 90 percent done, he would try to correct me on every little detail possible, because otherwise a typo might make it into production. But if I had told him I was only 30 percent done, he would gloss over the tiny mistakes, knowing that I would correct them later. He would engage in broader conversations about what the product should be.”
Her Bad Habit: Broad, unclear direction or opinions instead of feedback. Sometimes collaborators feel like they must contribute to a review, even if they don’t have constructive criticism to deliver. Worse still? When that happens, some default to a vague pronouncement about the creative, or even a subjective opinion instead. But similar to praise, broad comments without context are challenging to act on, and don’t help your creative team improve.
How to Break It: It’s important to instill the purpose of feedback within your team to help guide reviewers away from vague criticism. “It’s easy for someone to walk in and say, ‘that doesn’t work’ or ‘I don’t like it,’ but that produces nothing. It only stops the creative process in its tracks,” says Greg Satell in a recent article on The Creativity Post. “Feedback should never be personal or the expression of a mere opinion. The purpose of feedback is to move the project forward.”
There’s more where that came from! Check out the next post in our Wrenches in Your Workflow series.
Ellie Baldini is the Content Marketing Manager at inMotionNow. Having been a member of several creative teams herself, Ellie knows the challenges of inefficient workflows. Ellie draws on her experience to connect creatives and marketers with the benefits of inMotion, so more teams can get back to doing the work they love.