The Magic of Appreciation & Feedback

‘You have to water the flowers you want to grow’ – - Stephen R. Covey

Often as managers/professionals, we undermine the Power of Appreciation and Role of Feedback in the development of our subordinates/colleagues.

Let’s look at Appreciation first:

‘The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated’ – - William James

I train hundreds of professionals every week across the country and the 1 thing that I have seen constant that they yearn for is the need to be appreciated and recognised for their work. Sure money is a factor and pays the bills but what takes care of the motivation, the satisfaction and the happiness quotient? It’s Appreciation – from peers and bosses.

Have you ever noticed that when you are acknowledged for your work by your boss, you enjoy working with/for that person all the more? When you feel appreciated at the office, does it also make you feel empowered? Do you, in turn, make encouraging others part of your day?

Appreciation is a by product of observation, empathy and practice. It is easy and a guaranteed way of increasing the frequency of smiles. Appreciation of good work done is a brilliant way of reinforcing and conditioning a person to be an over achiever.

Some tips on effective appreciation:

  • Ensure it is genuine: There is a difference between fake praise and genuine acknowledgement. Unless it’s authentic, it will not work.
  • Be highly specific in your praise. “You are great to work with” is okay – but “I really appreciate how you respond so quickly to my mails” is much stronger!
  • Understand the magnitude of job done and appreciate accordingly: you could send an email, letter or SMS. The employees will preserve these like trophies for a long time!
  • You could even praise publicly during team meets.
  • Allow the person to narrate his success story to the rest of the team. It sets an example for the rest thereby creating a healthy competition.

A few generous doses of genuine appreciation and you’ll see not only how productivity shoots but also how relations better!

How does Feedback help?

Appreciation and feedback are 2 sides of a coin. While Appreciation encourages people to do more work, we also want to ensure that they do their work more efficiently. Providing timely and effective feedback is the key to helping a professional develop and make progress – which in turn leads to them to garner more appreciation.

Giving critical feedback is a challenge which makes even the most seasoned professionals uncomfortable. If done well, feedback can result in positive action and change. Delivered poorly, it can result in negativity, hostility or even rebellion. When feedback sounds like a personal attack (‘you are rude’), most people will respond defensively. People then can’t hear anything else, they get too busy defending themselves. The intent in offering feedback should be to inform, foster learning and improve performance. It should be to help reframe “mistakes” as learning opportunities.

Feedback should be given only after careful forethought and planning. Know exactly what you’re going to say, how you’re going to say it. It is important to be specific. List aspects of the person’s performance you are pleased with as well as areas in which you believe they fall short.

E.g. ‘You draft mails beautifully. However, they need to be sent to client within deadlines’.

Offering help solidifies your responsibility as a leader/peer, reaffirms the person’s value to the organization and assures them of your desire to help them improve and succeed to their greatest ability.  Isn’t that what we all want for our teams?

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