Daily Quote: “When it’s clear to employees that they’re helping others through their work, their intrinsic motivation rapidly expands.” Peter Drucker
Reflection: Having a bigger goal and one that is focused on others is a basic way to encourage a team effort. Good managers are always looking to support employees and catch them doing something right. I once had a manager that was always trying to nail others on their laziness and catching them doing something wrong. The result was high turnover and lower productivity which turned into an unfortunate game of “I gotcha”. This type of game was a win-loss for everyone.
As an employee grows into new skills or responsibilities, positive reinforcement can be particularly powerful for both the manager and team member. The idea is not used as often as it needs to be. For some managers using this technique is seen as a “soft” or weak way to mange. They have a miss guided notion that managers must be tough on employees or they lose credibility with the workforce. This “tough management” approach gives them power but it is a misguided mental set for trying to increase motivation. Using a more open management style focused on ‘feel-good techniques,’ are the equivalent of a verbal performance progress report that allows you to direct an employee’s progress by commenting, in an appropriate and credible way, on their efforts, successes and strengths as the team moves toward achieving their goals.
It sounds simple, and yet acknowledgments can be a hard skill for busy and misguided managers philosophy of what managers need to do in order to increase the individuals intrinsic motivation. Part of that is resistance to soft skills, but part of it is just not knowing how to communicate more effectively with team members. To give an effective acknowledgment, you must do the following three things:
1. Catch Your Employee Doing Something Right
Okay, be honest! How often do you see an employee doing something well, and neglect to mention it? And how often do you see the same employee doing something wrong, and comment immediately? Most managers would answer “usually” to both those questions. And that’s not surprising, given that your focus is improving employee performance. But if you only point out an employee’s mistakes, you’re training him to expect criticism every time you open your mouth.
The key to making positive feedback a cornerstone of your effective management technique is simply to catch your employees doing things right, and then tell them, in specific detail, what you saw!
2. Look for “small-steps” of improvement and areas of progress based on the 3 to 1 rule of positive reinforcement
As you practice “catching your employee doing things right,” look for specific behaviors that indicate areas of progress or growth. Most of us improve our performance more with positivity words; positive words of encouragement can be especially powerful when they recognize the specific and small contributions that our team members are doing because it signals to others that working hard to improve performance is in everyone’s best interest.
When an employee stretches his comfort zone, when they responds to constructive feedback, when they take a risk or achieves a milestone, that’s the time for an acknowledgment and rewards.
3. Build a climate of positivity by identifying and rewarding specific desired behavior with positive and matter of fact comments to individuals
When you do acknowledge progress, be sure to make your comments objective. Seems simple enough, right? But it’s not. Most managers give general praise, instead of giving an acknowledgment; and there’s a big difference in the impact of each.
There are several key differences between praise and acknowledgment:
- Praise is general (“Nice job at today’s presentation team ”); acknowledgment is specific(“I saw you speak up at today’s presentation with a clear and concise solution to the client’s public relations problem. Outlining a detailed plan of action seem to be what they were working for and the result was an please client”.
- Praise gives you the power to judge (“That was a great report!”);acknowledgment shows a snapshot of what you observed (“This report was much more detailed than your last one”).
- Praise is often extravagant (“You did an awesome job with the team”);acknowledgment is matter-of-fact (“I noticed that your facilitating style allowed everyone to make their point in the allotted time”).
As you can see, although an acknowledgment is measured and objective, it’s much more personal and specific than praise. Praise could apply to many people; but because of its specific and precise nature, an acknowledgment to an individual can only be about the specific person you’re talking to.
Self-Coaching Challenge: Over the next 24 hours take the Positivity Quiz and reflect on who and how to increase your positivity ratio with a specific person on your team. At your next team meeting Identify what you would like to see improved and take note of how you provide feedback to your team. Pay particular attention to whether you provide general feedback to your team or do you specifically acknowledge individual contributions and positive behavior. After identifying your approach pick-out one individual whose motivation seems to falling off and find new ways to recognize their contributions to team goals. This new approach will be seen by all members as a win-win.