The Power Of Positive Feedback

Every time I read “The Happiness Advantage” I become momentarily obsessed.

What popped out at me this last time is around positive feedback.

You see, most coaches and trainers focus on delivering difficult feedback because people are terrified of confrontation.

But I am ready to shift what I teach on the subject…always learning!

Consider this paragraph: “One study found that project teams with encouraging managers performed 31% better than teams whose managers were less positive and less open with praise. In fact, when recognition is specific and deliberately delivered, it is even more motivating than money.”*

And Shawn Achor goes on to talk about a company that has a stuffed elephant. When someone does something exemplary, any employee can give it to another. So other employees walk by, see the elephant and say, “Hey, you got the elephant. What’d you do?”

Another organization “makes time at the end of executive meetings to allow one person to talk for one minute about someone in the company who deserves recognition. A peer or someone many ranks down. Then a different executive volunteers to call, email or visit that employee to tell him or her what a great job they are doing.”

So what if you spent less time worrying about the difficult conversations, and more time thinking of specific and deliberate positive feedback? Not just, “Great job!” but specific.

Here’s a formula:  

A person’s strength + something they did = specific acknowledgment

Detail-oriented + fine-tuned an important presentation = “Wow (name), thank you for the polished presentation. We were so prepared in that meeting.”

Diplomatic + difficult senior management meeting = “Hey (name), what a great job talking to so-and-so today. She was so difficult to convince and we would have lost the pitch if it hadn’t been for you.

Charismatic + new project = “Thank you (name), your enthusiasm is getting everyone on board and that’s making my job so much easier.

And so on. This works for direct reports, peers and supervisors.  And it’s not about kissing up to people; positive reinforcement makes people more creative, resourceful and successful.

All my best,

*Achor, S. (2007).  The Happiness Advantage.  Crown Publishing, New York p.58

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