A lot of leaders set out to provide encouragement to members of their team.
But in many cases, what is intended as positive reinforcement ends up being little more than cheer leading.
Cheer leading is essentially empty “way to go” sentiments that have no lasting value or impact. They’re little more than happy-talk words, shared by leaders attempting to create a buoyant atmosphere.
There’s nothing wrong with nurturing a positive team environment. But cheer leading on its own doesn’t drive behavior. It doesn’t create top level performance from your team.
But if you want to generate results you need to add some sizzle to your feedback. Going beyond cheer leading will not only to create a positive environment but, more importantly, will inspire behaviors that lead to outstanding performance.
To achieve this result, provide encouragement that has these 4 qualities:
- When you have caught someone in the act of delivering outstanding performance, tell them so immediately. Whether it’s a fantastic attitude or a demonstration of a core value, the key is to tell them so right away. Cycling back to someone a week or so later, or waiting for their performance review, will do little to encourage a repeat performance
- “I appreciate the way you double-checked those figures. You caught an error that could have caused a real problem for us.” That’s feedback that communicates precisely what behavior is being celebrated. It’s exact. Simply saying, “Good job!” will do little produce outstanding results in the future.
- You need to be genuine with your encouragement. If the performance you are celebrating really made a difference to you or to the team, it will show in how you respond. Be sure your response is the real deal.
- Any behavior you want to reinforce should have the ability to be reproduced. Not only should you encourage the performance in the person you caught in the act, but you want to make a public example so as to encourage others.
None of this is to suggest that there isn’t a place for “Way to go!” and “Good job”.
But by focusing on these four principles, your feedback can result in ever-increasing outcomes by your team.
And that’s a lot more effective than simply cheer leading.