Most managers or marketers cannot afford the time, patience or creative energy to provide comprehensive feedback on a project. It is simply easier and more time-efficient to trust your team to understand and improvise.
“This isn’t working for me.” “This needs something more.” “This doesn’t fit our brand.” “Get a better quote.”
Thee are the most common styles of feedback, and it should be expected that this is the type of feedback writers will receive about their articles. What many don’t understand though, is that providing vague feedback not only frustrates the writer but also tends to result in a low level of improvement in line with what is expected out of them. Let’s look at a few examples of how you can give constructive feedback.
1. “This isn’t working for me.”
This phrase implies that you are providing an opinion based on personal taste. There are no reference points or suggestions. It is unclear as to what you are expecting.
Use: “Here is a piece that I like. Maybe you could use it as a reference. And look at how this point was included in the article. Could you try this method in your next draft?”
2. “This doesn’t fit our brand.”
While the writer may have already been briefed on branding guidelines and what is expected from their writing, this note does not provide particularly helpful feedback. The writer without specific feedback might just redo the entire article.
Use: “Elements A, B, C are important aspects that will help the article resonate with our brand. Please review the brand guidelines and see if these can be included.”
3. “Step it up/Amp it up.”
This feedback lacks energy and specificity. It suggests that there was not enough effort put in. It also does not inform the writer about what needs improvement.
Use: “I like your overall draft, especially sections A and B. It would be nice if you could emphasise on part C, as I believe it is not as thorough as the others.”
4. “Need you to get edits on this back by next Monday.”
As the client, you are entitled to set deadlines. However, this reads as a demand instead of a request, direction or suggestion. A little politeness will go a long way to get tasks completed without any bitterness.
Use: “Can we please set Wednesday as the deadline? Thank you, looking forward to seeing the next draft.”
5. “Keep trying.”
Again, this lacks energy and specificity. Focus points and guidelines are not specified at all.
Use: “It would be great if you could keep trying on this. The article is strong, especially A and B. However, it seems to fall short when you talk about C.”
6: “Try something different.”
This phrase suggests that the client has no clear direction or vision, and is expecting you to build it for them.
Use: “I am not sure of what I’m looking for, but here are a few elements that I want to be included in the article. Also, I would like to keep points A, B and C, that you have mentioned.”
7. “I deleted what you did and made revisions myself that we can use in the final version.”
As a client, you can add your tone to the content to make your personal brand more emphasised. This might seem like a collaborative effort to the client, but the writer might see it as the client erasing their efforts.
Use: “I like what you sent me, but I would like more of my voice in it. I want my readers to feel like they are getting something from me. This is how I would change elements A and B to make it sound more like me.”
8. “This section is terrible/useless/disappointing.”
This kind of feedback is not helpful in any way and will mostly do more harm than good. It again lacks specificity or instructions. This outright impoliteness and negativity should always be avoided.
Use: “The highlighted section is not as ‘well thought out’ as the rest of the content. If you really believe that it adds value to the article, we can keep it. It would be great if could you provide a few details or clarify what you had in mind for that part of the article?”
While feedback is not only important but also essential for the business, it is almost always about feelings.
The difference between spending 60 seconds to provide curt and non-specific feedback and spending a couple of minutes providing constructive feedback will be seen in the work the writer sends in. The latter will not only save time in completing the task to your specifications, but it will also equip them for future projects as they will have clarity on what you expect.