“You need to give praise as well as criticism!” I said to a senior Manager in Abu Dhabi the other day, and the surprised look on his face said it all. He was only used to giving feedback to his team when a mistake had been made and not when everything had gone well.
So whether you work for an SME, a multinational company or in the government sector, we all rely on feedback, so I wonder how good you are in giving such comment, or for that matter, in receiving it?
We are quick to point out to someone when they make a mistake but all too often we forget to acknowledge when a job is done well. This is a mistake, because giving positive feedback can be a powerful tool to motivate and inspire any individual to continue to offer improved performance.
Children, as we well know, smile happily when we say ‘I’m really proud of you for doing so well’, so I wonder why we forget to give similar encouragement to those in our teams?
Many business leaders may not fully realise the importance of providing feedback to their employees to enhance organisational growth and development. When correctly given, feedback can help to improve job performance while promoting professional and personal growth in those who receive recognition. However, it doesn’t always come naturally to everyone and this skill may not have been included in any management training programme. However, positive feedback can offer many benefits, when given at the right time and with the right constructive message, it can achieve excellent results, and help retain top talent within the organisation.
We can think of feedback as giving guidance that will enable a team member to learn as well as improve the quality of their work whilst at the same time, improving the interpersonal relationship between manager and their team member.
There are two types of feedback: positive and constructive. Positive feedback is to reinforce the desired behaviour whereas constructive feedback will address specific areas of suggested improvement. In order to get the right balance, both forms of feedback are necessary to achieve the desired result.
But what about those receiving feedback? Naturally, it is much easier to hear positive feedback rather than the constructive element. When you are told ‘well done’, it will make you feel good about yourself and raise your self-esteem. However, when constructive feedback is given, some may take this as a personal affront. The answer, of course, is how the feedback is given. There is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to delivering feedback so that it is taken as a way to improve or continue to improve individual performance - and that is where skills-training needs to be available if it is not a skill that the manager naturally possess.
If you don’t have this skill, then it is advisable to learn how to develop or acquire it. It could be via a training or coaching programme so that giving constructive feedback becomes a natural and integral part of your management skill-set.
So here are some tips to help you along the way:
Don’t delay: Don’t wait for that special moment to give a word of approval. Do it now while it is in your mind.
Make it public: Constructive feedback should be given privately but positive feedback can be said in public.
Be specific: Focus on exactly what was done right. ‘Well done!’ is fine but ‘well done on finishing that report on time!’ is even better.
Ultimately, you need to be sincere because it is not just what you say but how you say it. It is not a time for saying something for the sake of it. You are not just filling a space. When there is an opportunity, give a word of encouragement!
And don’t forget you can use this skill at home. When was the last time you complimented your wife, or husband, or child on how nice they looked, or how well they spoke or what a good job they had done?
Positive feedback goes a long way to growing and reinforcing any relationship and like smiling, it’s not difficult and costs nothing!
We all know it is easy to ‘catch someone out when they do something wrong’ but what about ‘catching someone out when they do something right!’
Think about it!
The author is a BBC Guest-Broadcaster and Motivational Speaker. She is CEO of an international Stress Management consultancy and her new book, ‘Show Stress Who’s Boss!’ is available in all good bookshops.