A good leader knows how to give feedback and praise. Just ask Kim Scott, whose TED Talk on Radical Candor, transformed our understanding of what it means to be a good boss. Certainly, criticism may be hard to take, but withholding feedback doesn’t do anyone any favors. Scott’s “radical candor” encourages honesty, but doing it well takes practice.
Coaches, trainers, managers and leaders need to find that sweet spot — the middle ground where they share important feedback but also preserve the recipient’s self confidence. The “Feedback sandwich” (say something positive, then critical, then positive) is not necessarily a magic bullet. Luckily, Dawn Holzer and Linda Smith, organizational development specialists, developed CaseCard Situations and Solutions so that managers can practice giving feedback (upward, downward, or peer-to-peer) before they’re face-to-face with a colleague, addressing an important issue. CaseCards provide an array of practice opportunities, as does the Feedback Game, allowing users to try new techniques, make mistakes, and hone their skill.
If the only feedback you ever give is criticism, your team will quickly know to equate “feedback” with “criticism.” However, positive feedback is also critical for success. Several studies have been conducted over the years, which focus on the benefits of praise. In 2004, Chalk & Bizo found that levels of on-task behavior were significantly greater when praise was given for a specific behavior, rather than general praise. In a 2005 study, Keller, Brady & Taylor found that praise increased student motivation, accuracy of responding & task persistence. So praise is not just about being nice and balancing out your criticism. Praise is essential, in and of itself.
To get the most mileage out of giving positive feedback, consider these 7 tips:
Positive reinforcement does not require a huge amount of time or a large budget. Try some of these playful and easy-to-implement resources:
If a teacher was concerned about a student’s progress, he or she would not wait until after the final exam to discuss those observations. Similarly, recipients of feedback, especially “constructive criticism,” should be made aware of issues rapidly, as they arise, and not be surprised months later at a performance review. Positive feedback, on the other hand, is always a welcome surprise and should be given without restraint. For more recognition tools, visit Trainers Warehouse (or our friends at Baudville). You might also want to take a look at Pinterest for tons of do-it-yourself recognition ideas. This link will take you to our collection of favorite “candy kudos” ideas.
As a final note, let me compliment YOU on reading through to the end of this post!
View also: 10 Easy Appreciation Exercises