One of the most powerful tools we have in our Leadership Tool Belt is positive recognition or supportive feedback. Ken Blanchard says it this way, “Catch people doing something right”.

Developmental feedback shows people when they get it wrong or where they need to improve- supportive feedback highlights when people get it right! In my last post I talked about how to give developmental/corrective feedback and I gave 10 guidelines to consider when delivering the truth. I have some guidelines for giving supportive feedback as well – these will help the feedback stick!

  • Be specific– describe behaviorally exactly what they did. If we are too general we will not have the impact we want. What gets rewarded gets repeated.

    Maybe you are talking to a preschool teacher and you say, “I love the way you drop to a knee to get on eye level with a preschooler – it makes a difference in your connection with a child”.

  • Explain effects and state your appreciation– whatever action was taken, explain what the result was and say thank you. Maybe it sounds like this, “Mary I want to thank you for talking to my daughter about her attitude. She respects you and it really made me feel good that you would take time out of your busy week”.
  • Help them take full responsibility for the results – Often we feel uncomfortable getting positive recognition. Your “Mary” may respond with, “O, it was nothing really”. Don’t let “Mary” leave like that – help them her to own the positive results of her actions.
  • Give the positive recognition in a way that will create maximum impact. This means you need to know how the person likes to receive positive recognition. Some people are not comfortable in front of a group of people; in that case, give your feedback 1 on 1. Positive recognition is also very effective when delivered in writing, a voice mail, a text or even an email. This will help the person receiving the feedback to review it over and over

Let’s make sure we “Catch people doing something right”!