I have a leadership challenge for you. You will need to execute this challenge at the most foundational level of the leadership experience — in the one-on-one relationships you have with individuals on your team, or in the company. The challenge relates to feedback.
I’ve found over the years that giving feedback is often not the favorite part of the leadership conversation. I believe this is true because for many of us feedback = negative. We only think about giving feedback when it’s about what someone is not doing well, or about a mistake they’ve made or about what they need to do to be better. For the next week my challenge to you is to make
Feedback = Positive
One of the things that research has proven over and over again and that hasn’t seemed to make it into our thinking as leaders is the power of positive feedback. Several years ago The Corporate Leadership Council did research on the impact of 100+ performance management practices on bottom-line results and employee satisfaction. Positive feedback was one of 7 practices that had significant impact on both results and satisfaction, and the impact was far greater than feedback that was focused on the negative. The ratio of positive feedback and developmental feedback that seems to have the biggest impact is about 4:1 (i.e., 4 positive, 1 negative).
So, your challenge is to catch people doing something right this week. Focus on a couple of team members and try to get close to the 4:1 ratio.
When you provide your positive feedback remember a couple of guidelines:
The feedback should be Specific and Situational. Tell them the specific situation you are talking about.
- It should focus on Behavior. What did they do or say that created a positive result?
- It should describe the Impact of their behavior. What was the positive impact they created? How did it affect you or the team or the company or the customer.
- Avoid vague feedback like ‘great job’ or ‘way to go’. One of the reasons to give positive feedback is to help someone replicate the behavior and results in the future. If I’m not sure what you’re talking about, it’s harder for me to make it happen again.
After trying this for a week, try it again next week. I’m interested to know how it goes. Write and tell me your stories.