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The Power Of Positive Feedback

Providing positive feedback on a weekly basis is the most cost-effective and powerful tool a leader has to create an engaged workforce and bring out the best in people. Unfortunately, it is also the most under-utilized behavior.

Survey after survey has revealed the amount of feedback employees say they need to be fully engaged in their work is way lower than what their leaders are delivering.

Decades of research by the Gallup Organization has proven the most productive and successful workplaces have large numbers of employees who answer “yes” to these two questions:

  1. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?

  2. In the last six months, has someone talked to me about my progress?

How would you answer those questions? How would the people that report to you respond?

According to Gallup, those questions got the most “no’s” on all employee engagement surveys in the 13 Global Regions tested. (I believe if family members were asked the same questions about their parents’ or spouses’ feedback, they would give a similar response.)

It seems everyone wants positive feedback, but not many people are getting it. Without regular and timely feedback, people are traveling blind from where they are to where they want or need to go.

If you feel your team or family could benefit from more feedback, consider using this process as your GPS Guide for Positive Feedback. (A GPS system is a much better analogy than a map because a GPS system always starts from someone’s current location. A map gives you information, but you can get lost and stay lost with a map.)

The Positive Feedback Process

Pick one person who needs your feedback and follow this 4-step process. If you’re not in the habit of giving regular feedback, it’s best to start with one of your high performers.

  1. Ask the person what they did well last week? Really listen to their answers. See if you can get them to talk about five positive things they did.

  2. Share your positive point of view. Build on something you just heard and share new observations. Your goal for the first two steps is to build on their strengths and increase their confidence about what they did well in the past.

  3. Ask them about one thing they want to do better next week. Help them create a specific improvement goal for the future. It’s also important to ask them why they want to reach that objective. The “why” question creates a sense of urgency for them to take positive action.

  4. Share one thing you want them to do better in the future. You never want to give corrective feedback about the past. There is nothing they can do with those comments except get defensive, discouraged or just shut down. Ask them to reach for an improvement goal next week that is just outside their comfort zone. One that will be challenging, but one they believe they can achieve.

The people you lead have the potential and desire to be better next week than they were last week. Everyone wants to grow. They just need a leader like you to bring out the best in them.

Let’s Get Better. Together! Bill Durkin


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