Giving your staff negative feedback can be stressful for both you and them. Let’s face it no-one likes being told what they’re doing wrong. And who likes confrontation.
What if you could use positive feedback to fix an employee performance problem? Sounds a little crazy I know, so I’m going to tell you a little motivational story.
Giving effective feedback is one of the essential manager skills. If you’re a manager looking to improve employee performance with better communication find out more here:
This is the common scenario many managers face: Carol, a receptionist, has recently been late for work.
So this story starts with a minor performance infraction, are you a manager who has experienced something similar? I know I have, and I know that when this happens, I start evaluating my options. Some of the things that go through my head include:
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
In this story what happens is that Carol's manager hesitates to address this (minor) employee performance problem. The “reasons” above become excuses to avoid dealing with the issue. As a result, someone else must stop what they are doing and cover the front desk until she arrives. Her behavior affects members of the team.
Worse, by not addressing her tardiness, this manager is sending the message that they condone this behaviour.
In a parallel universe, Carol’s manager does something different. No, they don’t undertake the unpleasant task of calling Carol into their office for a serious talking to about punctuality. Instead they does something incredibly easy and simple. They starts giving a particular type of positive feedback when Carol does something right:
SECRET NINJA MANAGER SKILLS:
So as you can see, the manager:
They is using secret ninja manager skills to fix a problem.
These simple words have a very powerful employee engagement and job satisfaction effect:
So what do you think will be the result of these words of encouragement. With that sort of consistent performance feedback, do you think it’s likely that Carol will be late in the future? Based on what other managers have experienced. This sort of positive feedback doesn't just fix individual problems. This positive feedback increases employee motivation, increases employee engagement and employee retention. This is because acknowledgement, feeling valued, doing meaningful work and having a sense of belonging are strong drivers of employee satisfaction, employee engagement and staff retention.
And by improving employee engagement all aspects of performance improve, not just the little things.
The “Manage by Exception” management technique is where the manager keeps an eye on things and only performance manages problems. But the problem is if you only give feedback when your employees do something wrong then the only feedback that you give is negative.
All this negative feedback is destroying your employee relations. If you are consistently negative and critical, no wonder employees don't like you or want to listen to you. Dr Gottman's magic ratio for healthy relationships is 5 times as many positive interactions as negative. Healthy employee relations doesn't mean making your employees like you as a friend, Healthy employee relations means respect and good communications. Positive feedback builds employee engagement.
“About 90% of the things in our life are right. Make sure you don’t overlook the 90% of things that are right because you are focusing on the 10% of things that aren’t.”
— Dale Carnegie
There is a misconception that positive performance feedback is only for good performance. But as I’ve shown above, you can and should use positive performance feedback to also fix employee performance issues. This works for employee performance issues large and small. And regular performance communication is one of the tools that successful managers use to get results. In fact the real technique isn’t just to use feedback when you have a performance problem. As a manager if you communicate regularly and frequently about performance your employees will be more engaged.
Are you a manager responsible for the performance of your employees? Is there a performance issue that you wish your employees would pay more attention to? Find out How to Use Positive Feedback to Fix Performance Problems here.
I hope that you have enjoyed this motivational story and that you are inspired to use positive feedback with your staff.
Manager Foundation specializes in the skills that managers need to know to create a healthy, productive and satisfying work environment. Giving effective performance communication is an essential manager skill because it supports you to be an effective manager in your other management duties: