Hello and welcome to this month’s edition of the Feedbag! Last time, we covered providing feedback to a judge while playing in their event. This month’s prompt comes straight to us from the comments section of last month’s article, courtesy of John Reuben Ferrer:
I am of the opinion that feedback should also be solicited from the TOs perspective. In my area, TOs don’t normally send feedback via Judge Center or Apps. Feedback (if any) is usually given verbally. I find that writing down feedback facilitates retention and it will always be something that the subject judge can go back to and grow from. Perhaps this can be another subject that you can write about on Feedbag.
This is a really interesting point, one that’s not often discussed. It also ties in really well to our blog’s current theme, coaching.
Most Tournament Organizers aren’t certified judges, and as a result aren’t actually very well connected with the judge program. There’s no requirement for them to be familiar with any aspect of it, including Judge Center, where we submit written reviews. So if you’re interested in getting written feedback from TOs, you’ll have a significant education burden. You’ll likely have to show TOs not only how to provide a written review for a judge but also why they should do it.
The how might be the easier part. You don’t need to be a judge to have a Judge Center account, so helping your TO set up the account should be a straightforward process that simply requires you to point them at the website. You may need to involve WotC customer support to help resolve password issues, if any.
As an aside, I use the Judge Center as a tool to screen judge candidates. If someone tells me they’re interested in being a judge but isn’t willing to put forth enough effort to sign up for Judge Center and maybe contact support if needed, it’s a pretty good indicator that they’re also not actually willing to put enough effort into being an engaged judge. The same is likely true of TOs — if they balk at signing up for a website, even one like Judge Center featuring the latest technology 1999 has to offer, they’re probably not going to be willing to put very much effort into providing you with written feedback.
So, it might be up to you to sell the TO on the idea. If they’re invested in the success of their own business, they should be interested in this feedback outlet. The TO hires you to run their events because you’re the event expert — you’ve got the rules and policy knowledge to correctly solve any problems that come up. If you’re at the point where you’re head judging PPTQs, the events can’t happen without you. If your area doesn’t have a dense judge population, you might be one of only a few judges who works events at that store. It’s in the TO’s best interest to provide you with feedback so that you can more effectively fulfill the obligations of your role.
In other words, you need to help your TO realize that a request for feedback is an invitation: “This thing you’re hiring me to do? I would like you to tell me how to do it more effectively.” A TO can provide feedback from a different perspective. For example, especially for smaller, store-level tournaments, the uncertified TO and store employees may have more experience than you with logistical tasks because they’re the ones running all those weeknight events that don’t have judges.
Similarly, while judges and TOs broadly share the same goal (run a smooth, fun event), each prioritizes different things. TOs are particularly concerned about ensuring that players have a good experience and so will continue to attend events at their store. As a result, TOs can provide some of the best feedback about how well you’re achieving that goal.
It might be best to ease your TOs into the feedback process by starting verbally, since written feedback is something that is alien to many people. It’s fairly common in corporate culture, at least here in the U.S. But for those who haven’t experienced yearly performance reviews and self-evaluations, written feedback can be intimidating. Starting with verbal feedback can familiarize TOs with the idea of providing it.
Then hopefully all it takes to get a written review on Judge Center is a quick comment: “Hey, can you sign up for this website and write that down? It will help me remember what you’ve said.” Ultimately your emphasis on feedback to TOs is a message: “I would like to be better at the job you’re hiring me for so I can develop judging skills and provide you with an even better value for your money.”
Please join me in thanking John Reuben for his participation in the discussion and the excellent prompt. Happy 2017!