Feedback know-how #1: Selective feedback

There have been a couple posts/threads asking those posting feedback to be more professional and constructive, but I don’t think that is the right request. This approach is a devil in disguise because when someone holds back what they want to say, it’ll eventually build up to the point where it’s too much to bear and the feedback that comes after that will be even worse. “Try to work with them” is a two-way street, and it’s not going to work unless those making these design decisions are invested in it as well.

Instead, I’m going to suggest two things: pick your battles, and pick your targets. Being respectful is important too, but these are the main two things that will dictate whether or not the current situation with feedback changes.

First, what do I mean by “pick your targets”? In any job, there’s someone calling the shots, and even if those that report to them don’t like their decisions, they have to abide. Remember that cooperation is a two-way street? We need both developers and staff wanting change for this to happen, but these implementation-level employees who don’t necessarily agree with the design decisions being made are the ones receiving the brunt of our toxic feedback, instead of the management-level staff calling the shots – not helping us win over anyone, guys. Direct your criticism, clearly, at the responsible parties so that you’re not at odds with the staff members who want the same thing you do.

Lastly, pick your battles. Of course nobody is going to listen to you if you’re running around like a moron yelling “revert everything! everything sucks!”. You lose your credibility, and since you’re going to complain about whatever they do, why should they even bother making any changes to begin with? Avoid confrontations you can’t feasibly “win”, and when the staff do something good, reward them, or else when you ask them for even further changes they’ll come to the conclusion that nothing they do will appease you.