Janet Jackson once sang, “When you hear some feedback keep going, take it higher,” and I think she has a point as relevant to looking for love as she does agency life. Fact is, feedback in an agency is similar to looking for love – a long journey of trial and error, but once you find the right person who is willing to challenge and respect you, it’s all worth it. But the relationship doesn’t end there, it evolves over time. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a few of my favorite tips for strategists on both the giving and receiving end of feedback on how to consider each other’s feelings, promote professional development and ensure a long and happy relationship with your manager/managee.
If You’re Getting the Feedback…
Swipe right. Match with the feedback and love it. That is to say, feedback is necessary – it allows us to perfect our craft with the help of our peers. Value the insight and advice from the leaders in the agency and on your specific accounts. Constructive criticism doesn’t mean it’s negative, either. Feedback is about taking the work to the next level: how you can do better and be better.
Don’t Catch Feelings
Feedback can be hard: to give, to get and to implement, but that isn’t always a bad thing. If you get an email/pitch/strategy draft with a lot of edits, take a deep breath, then read it. It’s ok to get emotional when receiving feedback. It can be hard to open a doc you worked really hard on, to then see it full of comments and corrections. But don’t let the feelings catch you — focus on the learning opportunity, and look toward the improvement you can show when you submit the final product. Feedback never comes from a place of malice, but a place of care and growth.
Little Black Book
Feedback gives us a way to benchmark our success. When you make a mistake once, chances are you’ll pay closer attention next time. Incorporating feedback is a tangible way to showcase your personal growth and improve both your quality of work and ability to take direction.
It may seem tedious, but try keeping all of your feedback in a central place. Pick a page in your notebook, or a fresh Google doc and keep a list of your successes and improvements. This can serve as your checklist before sending emails, submitting assignments, and drafting strategies. The only way this feedback thing works is if you incorporate it the next time. No one likes a broken record, so if someone is taking the time to give you detailed feedback, try to take the time to incorporate it.
Communication is Key
Soak in the insights and ask questions. Set up time to chat through the critiques and best practices with your manager. This can give you the opportunity to build on a relationship, and show your passion and determination for your work.
If You’re Giving the Feedback…
Say “Yes” to the First Date
This is your chance to be a leader. Think back to when you were an intern or junior staff member trying to balance learning the ropes of agency life along with your daily tasks. Your colleagues guided you and now it’s time to return the favor. Don’t let the uncertainty of a first date deter you. We know first dates can be scary, but they’re never as scary as blind dates. Remember, you know your co-workers — you’re not going into it blind. Think of their skillset and offer feedback that complements their learning style and you’ll be on your way to a second date in no time.
Be Open to New Adventures
While it’s easier to go on the same ol’ dates and provide the same ol’ feedback, you have to keep the relationship fresh and spice things up. Push yourself and others outside their comfort zones to help them grow. Like I said earlier, feedback doesn’t have to be negative. You can share examples on how to make projects client ready or ways to elevate strategic thinking. When giving feedback, think through the receiver’s professional development, and which of their skills could use a bit more exercise.
It’s easy to provide feedback on how you would personally do things; however, you should focus the direction of your feedback so that it enhances others’ personal flair, rather than forcing an adaptation to your own personal style. There is a time and place to be that twin couple.
Don’t let the romance die – you’re never beyond receiving feedback. The more we grow, the more we need feedback to keep developing our skills. We’re in it for the long haul, and the experts confirmed – don’t be a ghoster. Long distance relationships can be a challenge, especially when sharing constructive criticism. Try to be as thorough as possible and open to discussing the feedback via call, video chat or email.
Feedback is a two way relationship. If you consider the other person and put in the effort then you’re in for a relationship for the ages. Become so good at communicating feedback with your partner that Beyonce and Jay Z would take notes. Once you find your rhythm let the magic happen.