The creative process can be subjective, to say the least, and yet it is an integral part of so many projects you will manage in your career. Providing feedback — either from yourself or the client — is also a necessary, natural part of this process, yet giving the right feedback can be difficult.
Creative teams depend on effective feedback, and the more your team is able to provide it, the more effectively the project will run and adhere to timelines. To help your team provide effective feedback to creative teams, follow these tips.
Focus on problems
This can be a big challenge for many team members who naturally want to immediately offer solutions to remedy any challenges they see. However, instead, it’s better if your team simply identifies or relays problems to the creative department instead of trying to dovetail that information with applicable solutions.
While you understandably think you are helping, it’s vital your team recognize that creative output is not their area of expertise. In addition, by offering solutions they may be undermining the creative team’s ability to retain ownership of the work. It’s a matter of trust, and while your team may be simply trying to help, they need to trust their creative counterparts to correct the issue and develop a solution that works for the team and — if applicable — the client.
One of the reasons we all love project management software so much is because of its ability to create a single source of truth for every aspect of our project. Creatives want the same thing, and when they receive a pile of feedback in various emails or attachments, it makes revisions difficult, particularly when some instances of feedback contradict others.
It’s up to your team to deliver feedback in a consolidated format and to identify instances of contradicting feedback and attain a final answer to the discussion. You should also have your team filter out any comments that may be deemed insulting and offer no value toward the betterment of the project. Remember that bullet points are more easily digestible than a series of paragraphs, and always have your team send a follow-up email chronicling any verbal feedback so no one forgets their obligations.
Make sure the feedback is pointed
Consolidated feedback that is still largely ambiguous will only cause frustration and additional rounds of revisions. Your team can erase this concern by being specific in its feedback, or by asking clients and subject matter experts to be specific as well. Do not allow feedback providers to leave vague comments such as “it needs to pop,” “something’s just not right” or “let’s try something different.” It’s up to your team to take these comments back to the reviewer and work with this individual to determine what is really at the root of these challenges.
The same goes for working with your creative team. Encourage your project managers to ask questions of creatives to truly understand their thought processes and motivation for doing what they did. The creative process requires a general narrowing of possibilities until the perfect result is found, and your team’s questions can help identify the proper possibilities more quickly.
Always remember the goal
While a good project manager naturally takes ownership of their projects, this is not the time for your team members to institute their own biases into the feedback process. We all have things we like and don’t like but at the end of the day, a successful creative project is one that meets the goals set out for it and one that pleases the client — if applicable. This may look very different in form from the type of project your team would do on its own and that’s why it’s important that team members remember the goal of the project and sacrifice their own opinions, if necessary, to ensure these goals are met.
Remember that the goal should always be the foundation on which the creative project is centered, and if there are any questions surrounding the direction, the potential scenarios should always be compared to the goal. The closer a scenario matches the expectations of the goal, the more apt it is to be applicable to the project at hand.
A little praise goes a long way
Finally, don’t forget to offer praise to your creative teams. Feedback shouldn’t just be about what could be improved in a given effort, it should also include what you did appreciate. These small bursts of positivity do more than just provide your creative team with motivation to attack your edits. They can also push creatives to take new risks using your positive feedback as a foundation on which to branch out to new attempts.
Who knows, that next great design or piece of crafted content could all be born from your positive feedback on an earlier project, and when it is created your company will be benefit from its development.