Week 21- Dealing with Negative Feedback

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This week I am dealing with the fallout of a lot of negative feedback from the launch of a new product. Negative feedback, some of which was delivered with thought and care and some of which was just plain nasty, isn’t the issue here. What is making me feel negative is the worry about the effort required to make all the fixes. To get to this point, where there is something to show the client has taken so long, everyone is exhausted because they put their heart and soul into it. So I have to motivate myself and others for the next round of development without feeling that this return is because we have failed. These are my ideas, I hope you find them useful:

Issue 1 – Negative feedback

We feel upset, we feel angry, and we feel embarrassed. We thought we had got it right, and the client tells us we haven’t. The lack of energy, motivation and excitement has gone right out of the team.

The solution to negative feedback

First of all, let’s vent! I know we are supposed to be grown-ups and recognise that feedback helps us learn, and ultimately we will get a better product if we action it. But right now, it feels horrible. We feel as if we have been attacked – so let’s call that out, let’s acknowledge we feel bad and have a moan about it.

We did this by being open in front of each other about how much some of the criticism hurt. This allowed others in the team to pay compliments to those feeling bad, and as a whole, we recognised how hard we have worked, how much of our time we have dedicated to this and how tired we are. Recognising that our feelings are shared makes it feel less of a personal attack.

We are not a few days on from this, and we are now laughing about it how bad it made us feel, which is taking away the pain of the complaints.

Issue 2 – Fear of too much work and not enough time

Recognise that all of us have the same fear – do we have the energy to create the new answers and ideas that the feedback is demanding? This fear is about our creative energy, but also practically, we had hoped it would be better received, so haven’t left much in our schedules over the next couple of months for more development work.

The solution to too much work

Let’s recognise that the feedback is an additional set of requirements, and we have to gear up for another sprint of work. It means looking at our planned workload and taking difficult decisions about lowering the priority of things coming up over the next month, which might mean missing out on things we want to do. But we can do this if, as a team, we are all prepared to take things out of our schedule and agree when we can work together to fix the problems.

I am so proud of all of us, we have agreed times we are going to work together, and we have put times in our schedules when we are going to develop our parts of the enhanced product. We are getting our energy back, and we all feel a sense of momentum, even though it is for an additional deadline we didn’t know we would have.

Issue 3 – we don’t have time to start again

We have created so much for this client, and we are not getting paid, and we don’t have the time to start again.

Solution – Smart re-use of existing work

We need to find ways to “tweak” and amend what we already have. We don’t have the time to commission brand-new developments. To do this, we have created a quick visual of all the pieces of content we have already developed, some of which we didn’t share with the client because we didn’t think it was relevant. Having this complete picture has triggered ideas about what we can amend and what we can re-purpose.

A lot of the things we abandoned on the way to our first pilot product have been re-visited and have provided a useful source of material to meet the new client’s needs. We are feeling proud of our original version control and tracking of our product development, which has enabled us to see what we already had – definitely a win I am taking into my next project.

Once again, a willingness to find something good out of something bad has re-energised me. I hope these ideas are useful for you. Have a look at previous articles in this series for more inspiration.