Giving Feedback that Gets Results

This morning I found in my email the very best kind of feedback on an assignment: “It’s perfect!”

I’m not going to pretend that I don’t like getting things exactly right on the first attempt.

But there are other kinds of feedback that I like almost as well.

  • Here’s exactly what I didn’t like, and how I want it changed. The first draft is always my best guess, based on careful listening and research, about what will work for the client. Feedback like “It sounds like we’re bragging” or “It needs to be warmer” or “I wanted it to be more fun” tell me not only how to change the particular assignment, but also how to adjust my guess for the future.
  • Here’s why I don’t like it. Sometimes the reason for a change clues me in to a need for explanation on my part. An explanation about how the choice I’ve made helps searchers find the client’s website may help the client see the benefit of keeping it. Knowing the reason for the dissatisfaction can also help me come up with a solution that will please the client and still meet the goals of the project — often a solution that neither the client nor I would have thought of without pinpointing the dissatisfaction.
  • Here are my pet peeves, or my industry-specific quirks. I hate the word “utilize.” Just do, that’s all. I have clients who like “e-mail” and others who like “email.” “Hauling” isn’t incorrect when speaking of liquid freight, but it just isn’t the term they use in that field. We all have preferences. They don’t need to be defended, either. They’re important information and should be passed along as soon as they occur to you.

And there are some kinds of feedback that aren’t that useful:

  • “Hmmmm…..” Actually, I loved that. I really got that response once (or perhaps the designer I was working with did — it was hard to tell) and I was so amused by it that I told all my friends. But it doesn’t convey any information beyond “I don’t like this,” so it isn’t going to lead to improved results. Some of us are more articulate than others. If you find yourself unable to say what needs changing, you might need to meet face to face or by phone and let your provider ask you questions till you figure it out.
  • Saying nothing. If you’re not happy with your freelancer’s or your firm’s work, say so. Just being unhappy and accepting it isn’t good for either side. It can happen that you reach a point where you feel that the person you’ve hired just isn’t up to the job (didn’t you check their portfolio first?), but chances are they’ve just misunderstood what you had in mind. Professionals don’t get hurt feelings when you ask for changes — we want you to have what you want.
  • Rewriting it completely. I had this happen once, and I really didn’t know what to do with it. It wasn’t as good as what I’d written, and editing it would have been a different assignment. I think I said, “Do you like this? Good!” If your freelancer’s work inspires you to do your own writing and you like it better, that’s fine. Their job is done. It just isn’t feedback.

Keeping these points in mind will help you get what you want — which is your goal, and your provider’s goal as well.





One response to “Giving Feedback that Gets Results”

  1. fmatthews Avatar

    Thanks for sharing.

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