How to give positive feedback as a leader

October 2, 2017 Open Leadership No Comments

Good feedback is informative as well as motivational. This is as important as it is not straightforward .

You want your feedback to be accurate and motivating. You may also want to learn from the feedback that you give. How is it received? How may it lead to constructive feedback towards you?

Do you see feedback as an additional thing to do, or can you see it as an intrinsic part of the other’s job, as ‘part of the deal’? Besides the strict job description, most communications can be seen as some kind of feedback and thus as part of the job. A big advantage is that feedback loses its quality of ‘that dreaded thing to give or receive.’ It’s part of a continuous flow. However, you have to take care that the other person doesn’t perceive it as hyper-controlling. He needs freedom to work things out his way, to feel creative and responsible. Thus, the art of giving feedback may become even more important.

Let the other give feedback upon himself.

“Are you happy with your work until now?” – “What do you like most about it?” – “Is there something I can do to help you?” are questions that you can use to elicit the other’s thinking about his own job performance. It makes the other attentive to his own job in a positive way, not only at the concrete details but also at a slightly more abstract level: “Do I really like this job?” – “Does it motivate me and if not, is it maybe because I need some support?”

“Where are we going to, according to you? Is everything OK and on schedule?”

This too elicits the other’s attention to himself. The motivation that he experiences through this, is inner motivation, the one that truly works and of which the cost to you is… almost nothing. If needed, you can go a little further:

“When can we take a closer look at what you are accomplishing?”

This lends to the other still a lot of choice and occasion for self-feedback. When the time arrives, another good question from you is:

“OK. What did you learn from this experience until now?”

The primary goal in these examples is to let the other think about himself, give attention to himself, then share his attention with yours and – wherever possible – get your approval.

What you want your feedback not to be, is inaccurate and demotivating. Letting as much as possible come from the other, helps you in preventing both. Additionally, it may motivate you a lot seeing others doing their best and perform because they want your approval. Rest assured, people are hungry for your approval if you let them be so. Last but not least, this self-feedback by the other may reveal something original – a new way of doing the job for instance, or of looking at the result, or of motivating others as source of your own leadership. Surprise! Anything is possible.

This makes your feedback a source of happiness at work, for you as well as for the other.

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