Dawn Crawford has the secrets to giving and receiving feedback to make your communications work great, and she’s put it all into her new book, Kindly Review (NPMG’s Amazon Link).
I’m a huge fan of this book for several reasons. Even though Dawn didn’t write it specifically for nonprofits (the advice is more universal than that), it’s based on her many years of communications consulting for nonprofits. This topic — how to give and receive feedback in a way that is useful for creative professionals like nonprofit comms staff — is at the root of many of the problems I encounter daily in our coaching work.
People in our sector are generally pretty bad at giving and receiving feedback and it creates a lot of pain and hassle for comms staff.
Dawn’s book is really two books in one.
The first part breaks down the roles of creators and the roles of editors/reviewers. It is very clear about what those jobs are and are not. This alone is gold. You should add her definitions and responsibilities to whatever roles and responsibilities frameworks you use.
You as a nonprofit communicator do BOTH of these roles, but you should not be doing them simultaneously.
Dawn identifies eight different feedback styles that people in the reviewer role use and only one of them qualifies as “kind.” (By the way, Dawn clears up very quickly that kind and nice are not the same thing at all. Kind is about being truly collaborative and working toward the best outcomes. It’s not about avoiding hard conversations or masking feedback to be nice.)
Dawn has a great little quiz to help you figure out which feedback style you are (I’m a Vague Vocalist).
Based on your style, Dawn offers advice on how to give better feedback yourself and also how to work with that style when they are giving feedback to you. For example, as a Vague Vocalist, I need to remember that people cannot read my mind and to be more concrete about what I want to change. For someone trying to manage a Vague Vocalist (Hello, Kristina!), you should add extra time to the review process to ask people like me lots of questions to clarify my feedback.
All of that is super interesting and helpful. That’s one book in and of itself. And then we get to part two!
Dawn has created a review process for you to model that contains just two rounds of review. Not 12, not 22, but 2.
(Commence eye rolling and hysterical laughing.) I hear you: OH NO, NOT AT MY NONPROFIT!
Look, it won’t happen overnight. But Dawn’s process makes sense, is completely reasonable, emphasizes mission and efficiency, and is a dream scenario that you can actually put into place. It will take some courage and work, but you can do it.
The keys to making this new process work for you are a few phrases you will learn to embrace as you read through the book.
- Perfection is impossible, and imperfections are what make us perfect for this work. (You do know this to be true, right?)
- Fight for completion, not perfection. (Hallelujia a 100 times on this one.)
- Collaboration is magic. (Of course, it is. It’s the first letter in CALM, our framework for nonprofit marketing management!)
There’s a lot to unpack here, so I have invited Dawn to co-host a summer book club with me.
We will share much more soon, but go ahead and get your copy of the book. Get into our community if you aren’t there already. Mark these dates on your calendar and stay tuned for details:
- Thursday, June 22, 1-2 pm ET
- Tuesday, July 11, 1-2 ET
- Tuesday, August 8, 1-2 ET
All of this is free to you, other than buying the book.
Join us and use your summer to build a kind review process at your nonprofit!