Hearing the words “Can I give you some feedback?” can send us into a panic.
This is because when we receive feedback, it’s usually when things are going wrong.
I’m certain you can recall many times in your career where you have been given feedback in some form, whether positive, negative or constructive.
The intention of feedback is to highlight what you are doing well and what you should improve on. Feedback given is usually only focused on the negative and what can be improved upon, for some, they may occasionally be praised in their work, or not at all. Depending on the type of person you are is how well you receive the feedback, it can be valuable and help you advance your career, but it can also be uncomfortable and upsetting to be criticised in your work.
Giving feedback to your people is critical to getting the job done, but a typical mistake many leaders make is to focus on the negative, to catch people doing something wrong, and then correcting them.
Instead of focusing on what people are doing wrong, how often are you catching people doing something right, and giving positive feedback?
In the HBR article Give Your Team More-Effective Positive Feedback, Christine Porath writes “highlighting an employee’s strengths can help generate a sense of accomplishment and motivation. A Gallup survey found that 67% of employees whose managers focused on their strengths were fully engaged in their work, as compared to only 31% of employees whose managers focused on their weaknesses.”
The key is to catch them in the act, to give praise as you see them in action, not right at the end when the job is complete. When you reward and praise the right behaviour you want to see, you’re more likely to see it again.
Consider which of your team members’ positive contributions you currently take for granted. Make a list, and start calling out team members for their strengths when you see them in action — and try to catch people at it in the moment. The more specific you are, the better. The more you notice what’s meaningful to a person, the greater your potential impact will be.
As a leader, make your focus on catching people doing something right, and you will be building a team that feels confident, appreciated and valued. It helps people to understand and develop their skills. And all this has a positive impact on individual, team, and organisational performance.
What positive feedback techniques have you used or seen others use, was it effective?