THE feedback that builds a productive team is not the formal appraisal that takes place with your team members every month, or six months or once a year.
This feedback happens continually and it happens when you see or hear something you want to give feedback on. The trick is to keep it simple.
If you see or hear something you like, you tell the team members involved about it. If you see or hear something you don’t like or feel could be done better, you tell your team members about it, and you coach them.
Confirming feedback is about giving the good news. It is about confirming to your team members that you approve of whatever it is you have seen them do or heard them say. It is giving a compliment or saying “thank you”.
Unfortunately, this is the sort of feedback that some managers have great difficulty with. Their attitude is: “Why tell people you are pleased with them when they are only doing what they are paid to do in the first place?”
A great deal of this attitude stems from managers believing that they have to be big, tough and macho. Isn’t saying “thank you” just for wimps?
If you feel like that, think for a moment how you felt when a manager gave you a genuine compliment or said “thank you” for a job well done. I bet you felt pretty good and was probably motivated to do even better. I am sure you did not think your boss was a big softie or that he lacked courage.
Successful managers realise that almost everyone reacts positively to confirming feedback. They feel better about themselves and they feel motivated to repeat the behaviour. There is a saying that goes: “You get more of what you reward.”
Author Michael LeBoeuf tells this fable in his book, The Greatest Management Principle In The World.
A man went fishing one day. He looked over the side of his boat and saw a snake with a frog in its mouth. Feeling sorry for the frog, he reached down, gently took it from the snake and set it free.
But then he felt sorry for the snake. He looked around the boat, but he had no food. All he had was a bottle of whisky, so he opened the bottle and gave the snake a few shots.
The snake went off happy, the frog was happy and the man was happy to have performed such a good deed. He thought everything was fine until about 10 minutes passed and he heard something knock against the side of the boat.
With stunned disbelief, the fisherman looked down and saw that the snake was back with two frogs!
So if you tell someone on your team that you like the way they have completed some aspect of their work, you’ll find that they will continue to do that work in the same way or probably even better.
However, your praise must be genuine. If not, people who receive it may feel patronised. Don’t say something if you do not mean it.
Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, once said: “Nothing else can substitute for a few well chosen, well timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune.”
Positive feedback is worth a fortune to you in terms of motivating your team and achieving your goals and targets.