The Performance Challenge

Today’s business climate demands that everyone in the organisation boost his or her performance dramatically in order to increase results.  But in too many organizations, performance is driven through the best people—the exceptional performers.  Thus, more and more work and responsibility are put on the shoulders of the few, perhaps the top 20 or 25 percent of the people.  Often, the result is that these individuals burn out and/or leave the organisation.  The performance challenge is to increase everyone’s performance.  Providing honest and constructive performance feedback is a powerful tool for boosting individual and organisational performance.

Getting Our Minds Right About Performance Feedback

Every organisation seeks to shape a culture that increases the capability of its people in order to achieve all they can, both as an organisation and as individuals.  One aspect of such a culture is to have a work environment where all employees feel free to step in and provide feedback, whenever and with whomever, when problems or development opportunities are evolving or imminent, or when recognition and reinforcement for excellent performance is desired. Think AFL football teams, feedback is often instant and it is also a daily regular occurrence from within the team but the coaching staff.  The goal for feedback interactions is that they are characterized by skill, open-mindedness and respect.

As we mentioned in a previous blog about Millennials, young people and humans in general respond to and moreover desire positive reinforcement when they are doing something right. But how often as Managers or Leaders do we only focus on the negatives. We unconsciously home in and emphasise all the issues and errors with our team’s work. This can be deflating and soul destroying for everyone.

But how many Leaders that you know are actually good at delivering positive reinforcing feedback? Not many I would say most Managers are great at the negative but ask them to focus on the positive and they feel very uncomfortable. So why is it that giving positive feedback is so hard? One of the key issues I believe is that in order to deliver positive feedback Leaders need to be humble and demonstrate a certain level of authenticity. Many people struggle to do this. Old school Managers more so than ever.

So here are our top tips for delivering honest positive feedback for your employees:

  1. Be humble, recognise people’s efforts not just the outcome
  2. Listen – great feedback is a two-way conversation
  3. Be generous but not fake or over the top – keep it simple
  4. Say thank-you OFTEN it is free and your people will appreciate it
  5. Praise in public, criticise in private
  6. Be prepared, know what you are going to say and how you are going to say it
  7. Ensure the feedback is in line with the effort
  8. Link the positive feedback to the impact it has had
  9. Use your company values to re-enforce positive behaviour
  10. Give praise where it is due, don’t play favourites

Remember what gets rewarded gets repeated so the more positive reinforcement you give to your high performers around their contributions the more the team will recognise what they need to do to get recognition. Feedback is a key ingredient in any successful organisation, the more you practice it the better you will be become. So go forth and give some positive feedback to your people! You will be surprised what will happen when you do.

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