I have a friend who is one of the nicest and kindest people I know. Unfortunately, she gives off a bad first impression. Although she rarely has a cross word for anyone, she doesn’t always express her appreciation to people.
She’s friendly to them. But if she’s invited to a party for which she can’t attend, she’ll just say “No thanks,” without an explanation why or an explanation that she has a conflict. People sometimes think she’s aloof and distant.
Neither is true. She simply isn’t good at providing feedback.
Have you ever sent an email or text to someone and never got a response. Even if the message wasn’t asking for a response, sometimes it’s nice to get an acknowledgement from the recipient.
People are busier than ever. Most people I know get more than a hundred emails a day. It’s a skill to scan our emails, find the important ones we have to reply to, and continue on with the rest of our work.
Many emails simply inform us that something got done. When we ask for a report and receive it, we read it and continue on. Put yourself on the other side of that situation. Imagine that your boss asked you for a report and you provided it correctly and on time. It was a great report that allowed your boss to give an excellent presentation to the board. Yet, there wasn’t so much as a “Thanks” in return.
That can be demoralizing. Some bosses are just like that. But sometimes, the boss is just so busy, he or she didn’t have time to even think about it.
When you send an email to someone requesting information, remember to take a moment to follow-up with a thank you. You might even comment about how quick they responded.
A job well done
Aside from reports, sometimes people do their job exceedingly well. You might have been hoping for and expecting them to do it exceedingly well. So you didn’t notice how well it turned out. They simply met your high expectations.
Take a moment to notice when people do exceedingly well. Even when people do something well, take time to give them recognition. It means a lot to the recipient.
Some people are uncomfortable lavishing praise on people. They feel like it’s artificial to always tell people how much they appreciate them. It can be awkward if it’s not something you do regularly. But it’s something to get used to.
You don’t have to go on and on so that it’s embarrassing. A simple “Great job” is often enough.
Make it public
People like to be praised in public as well. If you have a daily or weekly status meeting, praise your team members in front of the team. Again, it doesn’t have to be lavish praise. Say something like, “Mary, you did a great job on that presentation yesterday. The CIO was very impressed. Thanks for your efforts.” Gratitude like that creates gratitude and loyalty from Mary. It also demonstrates to the rest of the team that you appreciate good work. This will encourage them to perform well too.
Feedback in conversation
Listening is one of the most underrated forms of communication. Some people are able to listen while they check their emails and read whatever they’re reading on their phone. Maybe they are able to get most of what somebody is saying. But that’s not the message they send back.
If someone is talking to you and you are listening to them, you both gain by practicing engaged listening. You get more out of their message by looking them in the eye. They provide better engagement and a better message knowing that you are listening.
Active listening is the act of focusing on the speaker. Look them in the eye. Nod in agreement when you understand what they are saying. Ask follow up questions when you’re unclear. Restate things in a different way to verify that you understand.
Practicing active listening will help you get better clarity and understanding. The speaker will get feedback from you and feel listened to.
We get caught up in our busy day and often forget about the effort involved from our team members. People go out of their way to help us get our job done every day. It is important to provide feedback to them to let them know you appreciate their effort and hear them when they speak.
It creates an environment of trust and gratitude that improves morale and productivity.
How do you provide feedback to your team?
As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.
If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong.at FreeDigitalPhotos.net