Posts Tagged praise

Feedback, Are You Doing it Right?

ListenFeedback is not easy for most people. Learning to give it constructively and receive it gracefully are two skills that can make difficult situations much less so. Getting in the habit of asking for feedback is also important. You should be soliciting feedback from your direct reports, or letting them know that you are interested in hearing what they have to say.

Giving constructive feedback takes some thought. You must consider the impact to the person. It seems simple but the words used, the venue and time chosen, and event the topic of feedback will all make a difference in how it is received.

  1. Know your audience –Some people would be happier to have you praise them privately. If you are giving good feedback be aware of the person’s preference for being praised publically.
  2. Give notice – For negative feedback try to give the person time to get ready to talk about it. If you have regular meetings tell them you want to talk about the issue or project during the meeting, if not set something up specific to the topic.
  3. Plan your words – Remember to separate the tasks, actions, or project from the person. Be sure you will hit all the essential points and be specific. Give examples of what a good job looks like or what has been done well.

Receiving negative feedback gracefully can be even more difficult. No one likes being told their efforts have been for not, or that their work must be redone.  There is a lot to learn from how others see us and welcoming feedback can help you redirect your efforts and be more successful.

  1. Listen for the meaning – Not everyone is good at communicating directly. Difficult conversations sometimes inspire people to tap dance around an issue. Listen for the problem, try to be task specific, and ask for suggestions on how to make a correction.
  2. Ask questions –General feedback is usually only a mask for the problem, you need to learn the specifics so you can make a change.
  3. Agree on expectations – It is easier for many people to be indirect. They get to leave the conversation feeling like they gave you the necessary feedback but you might be left wondering what it is they want. Ask what the person needs or expects from you.

Cultivating truth tellers among your team and being willing to play the role for others is a useful way to actively gauge how effective a leader you are. Learning to give and receive useful feedback takes trust and practice. The benefits of knowing where you stand with your team, being able to make meaningful changes mid-project, and building understanding are so valuable. Much more so than the temporary comfort of avoiding an awkward conversation.

Do you have truth tellers on your team? Do you have any tips for giving good feedback?

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If You Admire Someone, Speak Up

applauseWho do you admire? Perhaps you know someone who has overcome some extreme personal challenges or has shown himself to be particularly true to his morals and an example to others. Take a moment and think of at least one person who has impressed you with their actions or kindness. Have you ever told that person you admire them? If you haven’t, you should.

There are many people I admire. One in particular is a very close friend of my family who has filled a role similar to an aunt to me since I was about ten-years-old. She and her husband lived an amazing balance of just enough planning for the future and living in the present. Their story is one marked by his chronic illness and struggle for health. We lost him suddenly late last year just before his 60th birthday, and it rocked our community.

Last year on Christmas I stuck a note into my friend’s purse while we were celebrating. She found it the next day and loved it so much she showed it to my mom, who was a little choked up when she told me. It was simple but important because I had never told her just what her example means to me.

In the note I told her that I aspire to be more like her in that she doesn’t make a big fuss over day-to-day life. When we were kids, she was the mom who said, “Whoever wants to go to the beach, put on your suit and grab a towel; we’re leaving in ten minutes”. She always kept things simple. I love that she can embrace whatever is good right now, even when she is dealing with some pretty terrible things that she cannot control. And she always finds a way to give of herself and make the people in her life feel valued.

Part of what makes my friend’s example so meaningful to me is that I struggle with some similar challenges. It doesn’t always look easy but I can see she is trying and making the best of what she has. I have struggled with my own husband’s injury, the limitations it has created, and the difference in both of us since it occurred. I have often thought I am no match for this task.

Leadership is about being an example in the way you live. It is about living in a way that makes you happy and proud. And it is about learning from challenges and mistakes. Leadership means showing those around you who you want to be in the hope that they may be inspired to live up to their own potential. My friend is a great example to her community, her daughters, and those of us who have grown up around her family. She is no doubt, an inspiration to those she works with and the people she serves in her role at work. She has the ability to effortlessly show care for those around her.

When working for the government, the opportunities to reward employees financially are limited. Telling someone you admire or are inspired by them might be even more meaningful than a financial reward. We all have our own stories that include personal struggle. It is important to be tuned into what those around us face because it helps to build understanding. The very best leaders take time to get to know what is important to their people.

Who inspires you and when was the last time you told them why?

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The Power of Positivity

A+One of my favorite sitcoms, How I Met Your Mother, ended last month. In the final episode the character, Marshall Ericksen, an environmental lawyer, was shown working for a corporate law firm; a job that made him miserable. He had resolved to say only positive things about his job and in one scene was asked how he liked his job. Marshall responded, “I have a very comfortable chair”. This is an extreme example but we do know that there is power in positive thought and focusing on the good in things. As a leader, there are some simple things you can do to help your team stay positive.

Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge included 12 Simple Truths in their book Helping People Win at Work. The book shares the business philosophy “Don’t Mark My Paper, Help Me Get an A”.  In other words, give people the tools they need to be successful; if they know what will be on the test they can get an A. Here are a few of my favorite Simple Truths:

Simple Truth 1 – Performing Well: What Makes People Feel Good About Themselves

This Truth addresses the importance of experiencing and then building on success. People need to know they are making progress. It is cumulative; people who get good results feel good about what they do and build their confidence. With that confidence they can go forward and get more good results.

Simple Truth 6 – The Ultimate Coaching Tool: Accentuating the Positive

It is important to catch people doing things right, even if you are only able to praise progress. Some managers show up when they need to correct a problem but forget to point out the positive contributions their team members make every day. When was the last time you went looking for a team member doing something right?

Simple Truth 12 – Celebrate Successes

Look for the good, celebrate it with your team members, and tell others.

I have heard many times from those who work in the public sector that they are limited in what they can do for their team members by regulations. There is no regulation that can limit your ability to approach leadership with the intent to serve those you lead. Be available, remove roadblocks to success, look for and point out the good in people every day. Positivity is contagious and leaders have the ability to spread happiness in their organization. Even if your team never mentions it they will see and react to your example.

In the end Marshall, an aspiring public servant, achieves his dream of becoming a judge. He finds his happiness in his dream job and no doubt spreads his joy every day. How have you helped your team members find their happiness and get an A?

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3 Key Elements of an Effective Performance Review

Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry positioned his strategy for implementing a more effective performance review process within the Federal Government at the Excellence In Government conference this week.  Berry has referred to the current review process ad “infrequent and rote.”   His vision is to encourage managers to give frequent recognition and praise for good work to keep employees motivated and to ensure an increase in the lines of communication. In addition, the OPM just completed a pilot mentoring initiative in June and plans to implement a mentor program later this year. 

You don't want to save up feedback until somebody fails.

In their new book, Helping People Win At Work, leadership experts Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge support Berry’s sentiments.  Ridge believes that there are three aspects of an effective performance review; planning, execution, and review and learning.  Both Blanchard and Ridge use the analogy of providing students with the final exam and giving them the answers. Managers sit with their direct reports once a year to establish SMART goals and create the employee’s ‘final exam,” they then must coach them throughout the year to support the agreed upon goals and tell them how to accomplish those set goals.  They call this philosophy, “Don’t mark my paper, help me get an A.”  The last aspect, review and learning, helps managers and employees look for any learnings they may have encountered and determine what is working and what isn’t.

The concept of continuous coaching throughout the year has the biggest impact on performance.  While goal-setting provides direction and gets performance started, what keeps performance going and helps achieve the goals is day-to-day coaching.  Unfortunately, this is the step that is missing in most agencies.  Typically, when annual reviews are complete and goals are set, they are filed away until the following year. 

I agree with and support John Berry’s initiative to improve the overall performance process with frequent recognition and praise.  This form of communication is an excellent motivator and builder of trust among mangers and their direct reports.

How often do you communicate with your manager about your performance?

Listen to Garry talk about how the power that managers have is within the people around them.

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Did You Get Your One Minute Praise today?

Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW) kicks-off on May 1st.  It’s a time for agencies to honor employees for their hard work and dedication.  Agencies nationwide will be hosting events that include learning forums, award ceremonies, and town halls to celebrate government employees and raise awareness for the services they offer to the American people.

 The official PSRW website offers several ways to honor and celebrate your local public servant.

  •  Send a message to public servants you know.
  • Organize an event in your community.
  • Encourage local radio stations to play Public Service Announcements to honor federal employees

 In addition to the many events that are planned, individual agency managers can take on a significant role in recognizing the value of their employees by giving them a one minute praising. Praising is the most powerful activity a manager can do. It focuses on reinforcing behavior that increases an employee’s confidence and motivation and moves them closer to their goals.  A one minute praising is so easy to do.  Simply look around your agency and “catch people doing something right” and immediately give them a praising that is specific and that states your feelings.

 How is your agency supporting Public Service Recognition Week?

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