Feedback is your friend, not foe!

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When did you last tell one of your team what a great job he or she is doing? Positive feedback is a critical element in high performing businesses, but many managers don’t feel comfortable giving praise.

Similarly, we appear to have even more of a dislike to giving constructive feedback or suggestions to improve work performance. Many of our clients tell us they don’t feel comfortable giving any form of feedback – they say it takes too much time, feels insincere, or often just gets in the way of day-to-day activities. Surely I don’t have to praise someone every time they do something they are paid to do? They must know I appreciate them!

However, they are missing a valuable business-boosting opportunity. Few things will do more to build trust, boost morale among the team than ongoing, authentic and yes, positive feedback. More on the constructive stuff soon…..

As human beings we are hard wired with a negative lens. It takes a conscious effort to think positively, look for positives in people and generally recognise “good or great” in our environments. Alas though, the counter to this wiring is that us humans have an innate need to seek feedback on how we are doing. If we don’t receive it, we tend to make up information to fill the void – and it’s almost always negative. We are such complicated beings us humans!

So what are the benefits of actively giving positive feedback? Firstly it prevents those destructive information gaps I mentioned before. It most definitely strengthens relationships between employees and their supervisor; undoubtedly it will improve the quality of work and increase accountability for outcomes, but overall the most impact feedback creates is the generation of a higher-performing work environment. Yes, that’s right – the more positive feedback you identify and give to individuals – the greater their output and engagement with your business.

If you’re a novice at giving positive feedback – perhaps you might want to start with small steps – look for things that individuals are genuinely doing well, take a moment to pause, and then say something simple like “John, I really like the relationships you’ve created with our clients – I know they appreciate it –as do I”. Or words to that effect! It doesn’t take long to warmly recognise someone’s efforts. There are literally oodles of positive experiences happening at work every single day but the good old human in us typically only spots the negatives and jumps on those!

Speaking of constructive feedback – it’s a topic that generally gets avoided like the plague. It’s too hard, we don’t like to upset people, we don’t know how the other person will react, it’s easier just to ignore the bad behaviour or error and hope that it doesn’t happen again. Any of those sound familiar to you? Given that positive feedback creates a high performing work environment, what do you think the impact of not providing constructive feedback is? Ignoring bad behaviour or mistakes tells the rest of your team that behaviour is acceptable and worse still, endorsed by management; it reassures the individual who actually needs the feedback that actually their behaviour is OK but most worryingly it reduces your effectiveness as a leader.

Seize those opportunities to identify positive behaviours, tell team members when they are doing something really well and jump on those small issues that can lead to larger monsters if not dealt with. Feedback is most definitely your friend and should not be feared. Start practicing today and notice how much more effective you can become as a leader in your business.

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About Author

Senga Allen

Human Resource specialist and managing director, Everest Group Ltd
Waikato HR Specialists www.everestgroup.co.nz

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