Giving feedback on someone else's work is one of the trickiest parts of our jobs, especially when you first start doing it. It's a balance of wanting to make the work better with not wanting to damage to our relationships with our coworkers. It's a skill that requires practice, so here are ways to effectively give feedback on someone else's work.
Make your feedback about the project, not the person. When giving (and receiving) feedback, it's important to remember that everyone wants to make the project the best it can be. To keep the focus on this shared goal, frame your feedback around how the project can be made better, not the person's performance. For example: "The presentation needs to land more strongly on the insight." vs. "You included too many details and buried the insight." This keeps the person receiving the feedback from feeling defensive, meaning they'll be more open to the critique.
Find the gems, no matter how small. The best givers of feedback are able to dig through the work and find even the smallest gems to focus on. This is especially impressive in Creative Directors who are able to see a shadow of a great idea and encourage others to run with it. By finding the gems, you focus on the positive, leaving whatever you didn't like behind by omission. This tactic doesn't apply to all situations, but can come in handy when you want to be encouraging.
Builds, not brawls. The last thing you want to do is make someone feel discouraged or hopeless after they've worked really hard on something. Your feedback shouldn't feel like a set back—it should help others move forward. With this in mind, build on whatever's been brought to the table. Bring solutions (cliché, but legit). Provide suggestions and examples. Be specific about what needs improving and provide rationale. Show that you're an ally in helping to make things better, not a barrier to the work.
Be direct when you need to be. The methods above are meant to help you deliver feedback in ways that don't shut the other person down. But this doesn't mean that you should sugarcoat or skirt around feedback. In order to be effective, feedback should be delivered directly. Don't let fear of offending others silence you and your thoughts. Focus on ways to tactfully, but firmly deliver your feedback.
When done right, giving feedback can be a creative and fun part of the process for both parties, because it's a chance to make the work better together. As juniors, the earlier you can master providing feedback, the more valuable you'll be, so keep these tips in mind the next time you're asked for your thoughts on someone else's work.
How did I do?