Having someone look over your work and provide feedback is only helpful when done correctly. Before you finish a project or task this week, work with a team member and ask them for help by simply asking them to QA your work. My six team members got in a room and I presented to them as if they were the client. When teams consistently ask and receive feedback, they not only improve their quality of work, but they also create a culture where team members aren’t afraid to ask for help. Day of the Meeting Each Analyst will have up to an hour to discuss their issue with the team. All members of the team are working toward a single goal and that is to solve the issue. How to run a keep/stop/start meeting in 4 steps: Step 1: Have the team meet together for an hour. Step 4: After 45 minutes, you re-enter the room and over the next 15 minutes the team tells you about what they have discussed Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind: When receiving the feedback from the team you only have two responses you can give, “thank you” or ask a clarifying question. Having team members work together and come to a consensus before writing down a piece of feedback ensures feedback isn’t from a single team member but rather the whole team. What you read in industry news or what you see in client performance should all be shared with team members.
Let’s get real for a moment: As much as we hear about positive team cultures and healthy work environments in the digital marketing space, many of us encounter workplace scenarios that are far from the ideal. Some of us might even be part of a team where we feel discouraged to share new ideas or alternative solutions because we know it will be shot down without discussion. Even worse, there are some who feel afraid to ask questions or seek help because their workplace culture doesn’t provide a safe place for learning.
These types of situations, and many others like it, are present in far too many work environments. But what if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way?
Over the last ten years as a team manager at various agencies, I’ve been working hard to foster a work environment where my employees feel empowered to share their thoughts and can safely learn from their mistakes. Through my experiences, I have found a few strategies to combat negative culture and replace it with a culture of vulnerability and creativity.
Below, I offer four simple steps you can follow that will transform your work environment into one that encourages new ideas, allows for feedback and positive change, and ultimately makes you and your team better digital marketers.
Vulnerability leads to creativity
I first learned about the impact of vulnerability after watching a viral TED talk by Dr. Brene Brown. She defined vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” She also described vulnerability as “the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.” From this, I learned that to create a culture of vulnerability is to create a culture of creativity. And isn’t creativity at the heart of what we SEOs do?
A culture of vulnerability encourages us to take risks, learn from mistakes, share insights, and deliver top results to our clients. In the fast-paced world of digital marketing, we simply cannot achieve top results with the tactics of yesterday. We also can’t sit around and wait for the next Moz Blog or marketing conference, either. Our best course of action is to take risks, make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and share insights with others. We have to learn from those with more experience than us and share what we know to those with less experience. In other words, we have to be vulnerable.
Below is a list of four ways you can help create a culture of vulnerability. Whether you are a manager or not, you can impact your team’s culture.
1. Get a second pair of eyes on your next project
Are you finishing up an exciting project for your client? Did you just spend hours of research and implementation to optimize the perfect page? Perfect! Now go ask someone to critique it!
As simple as it sounds, this can make a huge difference in fostering a culture of creativity. It’s also extremely difficult to do.
Large or small, every project or task we complete should be the best your team can provide. All too often, however, team members work in silos and complete these projects without asking for or receiving constructive feedback from their teammates before sending it to the client. This leaves our clients and projects only receiving the best one person can provide rather than the best of an entire team.
We all work with diverse team members that carry varying levels of experience and responsibilities. I bet someone on your team will have something to add to your project that you didn’t already think of. Receiving their feedback means every project that you finish or task that you complete is the best your team has to offer your clients.
Keep in mind, though, that asking for constructive feedback is more than just having someone conduct a “standard QA.” In my experience, a “standard QA” means someone barely looked over what you sent and gave you the thumbs up. Having someone look over your work and provide feedback is only helpful when done correctly.
Say you’ve just completed writing and editing content to a page and you’ve mustered up the courage to have someone QA your work. Rather than sending it over, saying “hey can you review this and make sure I did everything right,” instead try to send detailed instructions like this:
“Here is a <LINK> to a page I just edited. Can you take 15 minutes to review it? Specifically, can you review the Title Tag and Description? This is something the client said is important to them and I want to make sure I get it right.”
In many cases, you don’t need your manager to organize this for you. You can set this up yourself and it doesn’t have to be a big thing. Before you finish a project or task this week, work with a team member and ask them for help by simply asking them to QA your work. Worried about taking up too much of their time? Offer to swap tasks. Say you’ll QA some of their work if they QA yours.
You will have greater success and consistency if you make QA a mandatory part of your process for larger projects. Any large project like migrating a site to https or conducting a full SEO audit should have a QA process baked into it.
Six months ago I was tasked to present one of our 200+ point site audits to a high profile client. The presentation was already created with over 100 slides of technical fixes and recommendations. I’m normally pretty comfortable presenting to clients, but I was nervous about presenting such technical details to THIS particular client.
Lucky for me, my team already had a process in place for an in-depth QA for projects like this. My six team members got in a room and I presented to them as if they were the client. Yes, that’s right, I ROLE PLAYED! It was unbearably uncomfortable at first. Knowing that each of my team members (who I respect a whole lot) are sitting right in front of me and making notes on every little mistake I make.
After an agonizing 60 minutes of me presenting to my team, I finished and was now ready for the feedback. I just knew the first thing out of their mouths would be something like “do you even know what SEO stands for?” But it wasn’t. Because my team had plenty of practice providing feedback like this in the past, they were respectful and even more so, helpful. They gave me tips on how to better explain canonicalization, helped me alter some visualization, and gave me positive feedback that ultimately left me confident in presenting to the client later that…