Many business leaders make the critical mistake of assuming that their employees/direct reports feel sincerely recognized and deeply appreciated for their contributions. When asked, the leaders often give self-reports indicating that they do, in fact, give plenty of authentic praise. When asked, the employees often report that that is not the case.
The learning here is simple. If you’re a leader, err on the side of too much REAL praise. (I can’t over-emphasize the importance of the feedback being sincere because insincere praise is patronizing, damaging, and therefore worse than no praise at all.) If you’re going to make an assumption regarding the strength of your positive feedback game, assume it’s weak. Or at least assume it can be seriously upgraded.
The discipline is called “Finding the Hidden Wins” and it takes practice. I suggest to the leaders that I coach that they actually schedule time for this. Schedule an actual appointment with yourself to reflect upon who on your team has a recent win. It doesn’t always need to be a spectacular win like the one Ben Kim created in this clip from my favorite show, Billions (I know, I know, I’m milking this show for some serious content. And I love it. The show gives me a lot of ideas involving Mental Toughness – or the lack thereof.)
All research supports the fact that regularly offered, sincere and well-articulated positive feedback is remarkably reinforcing and creates heightened levels of competency, motivation and job satisfaction for the employee.