August 11, 2021 Why Giving Clear Feedback is the #1 Skill You Need for the Future of Work

Each week on the Uprisor podcast we talk with future of work thought leaders about technology and on-demand talent. In this episode, I’m continuing my conversation with Topcoder VP Clinton Bonner (Uprisor’s usual host), and Creative Director Trevor Gerring. In Part 1, I interviewed the guys about their experience working with Tongal to produce a live-action commercial.

Today in Part 2, we discuss feedback and why it’s so important. Listen in to discover how to gather, refine, and provide crystal clear feedback, and why the ability to do so is a vital 21st century skill.  

Clear Feedback is Critical

In Part I, Clinton and Trevor suggested that one of the keys to success in Topcoder’s relationship with Tongal was the ability on both sides of the partnership to provide and receive clear feedback. To kick off today’s conversation, we delved into why this is crucial, especially in a collaborative, remote setting.

Clinton and Trevor agreed that expert talent is out there but that communicating effectively is often a barrier to project success. That’s because, in their experience, ambiguity slows progress. For example, when someone can’t articulate a stronger critique than “I don’t like this,” it’s difficult for anyone else to know how to proceed. 

Instead, the pair believe that clear, concise feedback is the key to keeping projects moving quickly. Rather than expecting others to read between the lines, feedback has to be presented with outcome-based intent and with the goal of driving next steps. 

“Everyone involved is trying to get to some outcome… We’re all working on it together and feedback is the one thing that gets you to that end result.” —Trevor Gerring, Creative Director

The Three Tenets of Good Feedback

Moving from theory into action, Clinton outlines three tenets of good feedback:

  1. Have an ownership mentality. Feedback isn’t given to burn bridges or bolster egos; it’s offered in pursuit of an outcome. It’s your responsibility to speak up for the items that fall within your wheelhouse. If you don’t, you set yourself up for difficult discussions further down the line and potential project delays to boot.
  2. Take pleasure in being specific. Without micromanaging or over-engineering a solution, don’t be afraid to speak up about what you want. Guidance as simple as, “This element is off-brand because…” can steer the project in the right direction without boxing anyone in. 
  3. Be organized. Get aligned at the beginning of the project. Define expectations surrounding when/where/how to present feedback. Spraying bits and pieces across multiple channels will make it more difficult to digest and take action.

When “Good” is Good Enough

Wrapping up, I asked Clinton and Trevor how they decide when to call it—how do you know when to end the feedback process and call a project done? They stepped through a few of the factors they weigh, including:

  • Scope — Is it a high-volume blog/podcast series or a one-off live-action commercial?
  • Audience — Is it for internal or external consumption?
  • Lifespan — Is it a short-lived promotion or something expected to serve as a marketing centerpiece?

Without clear feedback, projects can be delayed–or worse–derailed. That’s why Clinton and Trevor agree that the ability to give clear feedback is the number one skill they look for when hiring someone for a team. If you haven’t already, tune in to Part I of this series, and check out the Uprisor podcast for more great future of work conversations.

“Being clear about what you want is the most effective way to get there.” —Clinton Bonner

Annika Nagy


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