I admit to being a little surprised these days when I come across people who steadfastly refuse to use revision as a means of making a piece of writing better in favor of using it as a cudgel. Making snarkly comments about a piece isn't going to improve the writing or the writer. It builds barriers within the writing team, slows the process and doesn't fix the problem. We got a call from a client yesterday who's got a fractious writing team. On a huge project, with a very short time frame, the revision process has ground to a halt because three disgruntled team members, pissed because they weren't chosen as lead writer, are making irrelevant and non-specific comments about the copy. Beyond the sheer pettiness of it all is the fact that now nobody looks good, not even those who think they could do a better job.

So we're doing an intervention. We'll go in an review the rules and roles we established with them last year. We'll avoid getting into the office politics and focus on things we can control, like the revision process itself. We'll take on the role of the enforcer in terms of constructive commenting while the manager addresses the hurt feelings. We'll also work with her to develop some skills for avoiding a derailment of this sort in the future by being a little more transparent in her decision-making. Our goal is to get everyone back on the same page, so to speak, so we can get this important project finished.

I know feelings get hurt. I know people feel disappointed when they think they're better suited for a job than the person who got it. But dragging down the project just to prove that point, has exactly the opposite affect. By not playing fair and helping the team, the "injured party" has shot herself in the foot. That doesn't help anybody.

How can you avoid a similar situation on your writing team? We've got an app (or two) for that. Check out our training options. If you'd like us to mediate, coordinate or educate your writing team, drop me a line.