Reviews: Identify issues instead of providing solutions
Giving positive feedback is easy; it’s much trickier to provide critical feedback in a way that improves the end result without diminishing the sense of ownership of the person working on it. In situations with designers, engineers, and direct reports, I’ve found one technique that works well is to focus on identifying issues rather than offering solutions.
Take for example a situation where a designer has put together some intro screens for the mobile app you’re working on, and now the two of you are reviewing them. It’s very easy and natural for a reaction to be “hey these are great, but we need to make sure we talk about feature X on the first screen.” This is you offering a
On the other hand, if you analyze
By consistently framing critical feedback as issues rather than solutions, you avoid micromanaging and turn review times into opportunities to ensure alignment and push the individual to improve their craft. Even feedback as blunt as “I’m sorry, it just needs to be better” can be more effective than “Do it this way” in terms of empowering people to take ownership of their work and getting them excited about producing the best possible result. And if their response to an issue is “I just don’t know how to solve the issue, can you help?" then your suggestions can provide a constructive learning moment instead of being issued as a command.