Positive feedback as a tool of influence (in a team)

I have already written what the risks are if the manager does not give feedback. Now let’s talk about the importance of positive feedback for subordinates.

One of the most common tasks in teamwork is mutual understanding. It is expressed in the quality of the work done: the boss is satisfied with how the project is done, and the subordinate sees that he is valued and is in the right place. But in practice, it is not easy to reach this kind of understanding.

I am often addressed by the top managers and subordinates with different, but really so similar requests. Let’s take a look at the examples below.

Department Director: I hired a new assistant, but she can not cope with the tasks. Why is she always waiting for detailed explanations?

Personal Assistant: I started working with a new boss and spent a month guessing how to do the task in order to please her. I want someone to tell me how to do the work at the beginning, so that all my enthusiasm goes into the project, and not get wasted on the attempts to understand the manager.

Junior Manager: I was given a new project and left to myself. The boss said: the most important thing is for you to have the work done. I have a feeling that everyone is just watching if I handel it or not. If I can roll with project — well done, if not — well, sorry, goodbye.

Do you see what these requests have in common? — Lack of positive feedback. Such a bias of criticism is often found among inexperienced managers who are trying to interact with younger employees or their subordinates. Managers often go too far, pointing out only the errors. They do not discuss the strong points of the way the assignment was fulfilled, as they believe that “it’s clear that it’s done well.” For a subordinate, such work manner develops a conviction that no matter how hard you try, they won’t even tell you “thank you”.

Without solving this problem, the level of irritation of the authorities will grow faster than the employee understands what they want from him, and that can lead to dismissal. The working pace will be slowed down. Besides, some managers are not ready to wait a month or two until the employee understands. Moreover, during the time that the subordinate learns to understand his employer, they might burn out and will not be able to work on the project to their best.

The research shows that one of the best ways to help employees to thrive — is to give them positive feedback. This is one of the main levers that the leader may use to increase the involvement and improve the subordinates’ work quality.

The accomplished employees demonstrate an increase in overall productivity by 16% (as their managers report) and 125% less burnout (self-report) than their colleagues. The respondents were 32% more committed to the company and 46% more satisfied with their work. They also missed much fewer working days and reported significantly fewer visits to the doctor, which meant a reduction in the company’s health care costs and truancy reduction.

Thus, the importance of positive feedback is obvious.

How can you give positive feedback?

It is important not to confuse it with praise which often sounds vague: “Good!” “I liked it!” “Keep it up!” And does not give any specifics. The benefits of positive feedback are when it explains what was useful or liked.

There is a simple algorithm for this:

  • actual observation (what I saw or heard);
  • interpretation (that I made up when I saw it or heard it);
  • what effect it had on me.

For example:

The employee submitted a report which returned to the manager with the edits. In the edits, the boss indicated only the errors of the subordinate: the screenshot was inserted incorrectly, the output was not detailed. However, the analysis table was prepared on time and revealed the main drawbacks of the project. In this case, a positive feedback of the report could be issued with the same comment according to the formula:

  • when I saw a table with the data and calculations (actual observation)
  • I thought your approach to the analytics was quite responsible (interpretation)
  • which inspired me to trust in your work and it was easy for me to read the analysis (effect).

After such feedback, the subordinate will not only understand his mistakes, but also his strengths.

The same method works in the opposite direction, when the employees need to clarify what was done wrong or what they managed to do well.

First you need to check your intention, that is to understand why you need a feedback.

If it is needed only in order to receive praise, then the answer “Thank you, well done!” should be enough. However, such feedback is actually not productive, as it does not give an understanding of what has happened. And the employee will not put himself in an advantageous position, if he asks only for encouragement from the boss.

Suppose your intention is to “understand exactly what I did well.” How to get such feedback from the manager?

You can say to the boss: “Thanks for the feedback. Could you tell me what worked for you in the best way? ”If the answer is ambiguous: “Everything else”, then ask to clarify: “ I am asking for a reason. I want to work on my strengths to continue doing what I am already doing well. Can you tell me more about what worked for you? ”Then you can help the manager and ask clarifying questions:

And what did you see in the report that worked for you the best way?

How did you interpret it?”

What effect did it have?

That is, ask to describe the positive aspects of the report and the effect of this in order to understand the vision of your boss and shift this part to the rest of the work in the future.If you still have questions about how to get positive feedback from your boss or to improve your skills in this, sign up for a personal session.

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