Catch Them Doing Something Right

Catch Them Doing Something Right

While role playing an appraisal scenario, a senior manager questioned the need to give detailed feedback. His exact words were, “The percentages (in terms of appraisal) are already decided beforehand. What’s the point in hashing it out and having a long conversation with the employee? I wrap up my appraisals in 5 minutes.”

This gentleman had complained of high attrition in his team at the start of the workshop and articulated his expectations of learning a fool proof way of curbing this trend!

One way of engaging team members is by giving timely positive feedback. Interestingly when we start talking about giving positive feedback and appreciation we find a lot of resistance. In principle, everyone agrees that giving ‘praise’ and ‘appreciation’ is important. We find however during role plays people want to but are either immensely ill equipped to give positive reinforcement or are simply not very comfortable giving any of it.

Everyone agrees that it feels great to receive appreciation. They also agree that giving genuine appreciation feels good. But no one seems to know why such a crucial interpersonal behaviour that is pleasurable for both parties involved is practiced so little?

Here are some possible beliefs that might make managers hesitate to give verbal recognition
  1. Praise leads to complacency
  2. I am too busy
  3. I just don’t know what to say
  4. Other team members might get jealous

In my early years, I had a manger who was often critical of my mistakes but he was just as generous when I did something right. He never held back his appreciation telling me exactly what I did well. He would sometimes also pass on credit for work he had done and I had only supported, to me. So while his criticism would be harsh and painful to hear, I didn’t live in fear of making mistakes. Instead I tried my best to earn his praise so while I tried to rectify my weaknesses I also strengthened my strengths. I lived to achieve and get better not in trying to hide my mistakes from him. It made me take more risks and think out of the box.  That’s what praise and recognition does to a team member.

Far from creating complacency or jealousy, specific, timely and fair appreciation creates a positive atmosphere. It also becomes easier for the team members to recognize the competencies and behaviours that are important for the manager and shows them that the manager is observing their actions.

Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson’s One Minute Manager outlines a few steps for giving one minute praise! My favourite line from the book is, “….catch them doing something right!”

Here are the steps
  1. Tell people that you will be giving them feedback
  2. Praise people immediately
  3. Tell them what they are doing right-immediately.
  4. Tell people how good you feel about what they did right and how it helps the Organizations/Team members.
  5. Encourage them to do more of the same.

So simple! It’s not enough to just think that someone’s done a good job, say it to them. Often!