Let’s face it: coaching your team members is a potential emotional landmine and it’s no surprise. Most people are somewhat sensitive (in varying degrees) about their work and the last thing they want to hear is for their supervisors and managers to say that their work is no good.
Feedback is an important part of the work process however, one that cannot be ignored especially if the quality of work is to level up (and if we want to keep our clients).
Wikipedia defines constructive criticism as “compassionate attitude towards the person qualified for criticism”. It basically means that while we know that criticisms must be encouraged and accepted with an open mind and is an integral part of the process for self-improvement, we also have to remember that people have feelings, and that we have to exercise care in dealing with them.
All too often, a manager (especially those of a less emphatic nature) tend to deal with their creatives with a heavy hand. Not to say that you should walk on eggshells around your team but there are ways you can get your point across while taking their feelings into consideration and allowing their collective egos to remain intact. Here are a few suggestions:
1. What’s your point?
Telling a team member “your work’s terrible” and leave it at that without explaining is not only emotionally damaging but you leave them unable to make use of your feedback without a little bit more detail (unless they’re mind readers). Be specific.
2. What’s the next step?
Always remember to make concrete suggestions on how he can improve his performance. Being specific on what the issues are is good and being specific on the action steps on how your team member can work on them are even better.
3. Start/End Positively
People want to improve but they often react negatively to the way feedback is delivered.One way to soften the blow: start out with something positive about the work, then identify the negatives, before ending the session on another positive aspect.
One last thing: under no circumstance should you do any feedback session in front of other people. This is especially true for team members who are expected to lead others. Not only will you be undermining the team’s confidence in their leader’s ability but you’re also undermining the leader’s confidence to lead his team which is bad for everyone. That being said, any success (big or small) by your creative or creative team must be announced to the world and celebrated publicly. It’s one way of validating their work and encouraging them to do more through positive reinforcement.
It’s not an easy task but if there’s anything I’ve learned about managing people over the years it’s this: make them feel good and they’ll make you look good.