Three Must-Do Steps for Delivering Positive Feedback

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I know you’re busy. You have a long list of important and strategic priorities continually calling you. And, most days, you feel overwhelmed and over-scheduled.

One of your priorities is to deliver positive feedback. And with good intentions, you’ve likely said to an employee “great job on the Phoenix Project.”

While the intention of your feedback is positive, you’ve missed an opportunity to significantly enhance employee performance and may have even shot yourself in the foot. All too frequently employees tell me they perceive feedback from leaders to be superficial.

In my new book, 7 Principles of Transformational Leadership, I talk extensively about the Praising Principle. Praising others is an essential aspect of transformational leadership. Praising builds employee confidence and encourages experimentation, risk-taking, and learning while also infusing hope and optimism into the workplace. But if you shortcut the delivery, you shortchange yourself and your employees.

To transform your praise, you must abide by the praising rule of 3: be sincere, be timely and be specific.

Praise must be sincere. Praise that is mechanical or obligatory has the opposite of the desired effect. Instead of building self-esteem and well-being it reduces it and creates a chasm between the leader and the employee. Ultimately, it undermines a person’s desire to give their full effort to performance.

Praise must be timely. Praise is most powerful when it is delivered in real time. Noticing employees doing something noteworthy and commenting on it immediately raises the well-being not only of the person receiving the praise, but creates a culture in which appreciation and continued growth become strategic assets.

Praise must be specific. Generalized praise such as, “Good job!” pales in comparison to specific praise such as, “Your attention to detail and follow up on the Carson project was incredibly helpful. You lived out our strategic goal of improving our customer experience and made the client feel confident and at ease. They said they loved working with us. That was really good work.”

Are you abiding by the praising rule of 3? If not, what do you need to do to better enable employee flourishing?

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