Giving positive feedback and why it is so important
This article is based on the eBook “High-impact interpersonal skills” written by Apex Leadership Ltd.
One important skill for effective coaching as well as managing people is providing feedback. Feedback can be used to give information or praise, but it is also extremely useful as a tool to help people to improve. Typically, it has two main purposes:
1. To motivate: when team members are performing well, feedback can increase confidence and encourage them to continue at that level of performance.
2. To correct: when team members are not performing as well as you would like, feedback can help determine how to change and improve their performance.
Good quality feedback can achieve a number of things. For example, it:
• Improves performance
• Helps motivation
• Boosts confidence
• Develops skills and understanding
• Shows people you value them
Feedback is used in a wide range of leadership and management activities. It is critical when:
• Providing coaching support.
• Conducting performance management reviews and appraisals.
• Engaging in more general, one-to-one discussions.
• Reviewing how well a delegated activity is progressing.
• Handling conflict.
The power of feedback as a motivational tool
Feedback is very much a part of organisational life, yet one aspect of giving feedback is often under used and undervalued. It is also an aspect of feedback that has considerable potential.
Feedback can be a simple yet powerful motivational tool. Just by praising people for what they have done, leaders can have a galvanising effect. It’s strange that something so effective yet simple is so rarely or poorly done.
Giving praise is a simple, two-step process
1. Look out for the behaviours and practice you want to see.
2. As soon as you see what you want to encourage, make sure you praise the person.
Essentially, praising is giving people positive feedback, reinforcing and supporting good performance. Too often we are quick to point out weaknesses or where things are go wrong, and slow to praise what is done well.
Tips for giving positive feedback
Think about the value of giving positive feedback with these tips:
• Praise: Praising people for what is done well, is far more powerful than criticising for what was not done well.
• Catch-people: “Catch people” doing what you want to see.
• Make it public: Give positive feedback openly and publicly.
• A simple practice: Make this simple act of praising a routine part of your practice.
• Improving performance: If you want to see performance levels increase, this is one of the simplest and most powerful things you can do.
• Quick and slow: Be quick to praise, slow to blame.
Of course, it’s important to ensure your praise is appropriate and in proportion to what has been achieved. This means what you say will be credible, valid and worthwhile. The idea of positive feedback is captured well by Blaise Pascal when he said:
“Kind words do not cost much. They never blister the tongue or lips. They make other people good-natured. They also produce their own image on men’s souls, and a beautiful image it is.”
If you would like to learn more about how to give effective feedback, you might be interested in finding out more about our eLibrary.
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