The Right Balance

In the last post we looked at feedback and how much we provide. Today we are going to look at the right balance of encouraging v. corrective feedback.

Most of us are fairly adept at providing corrective feedback and it probably makes up most of our feedback output…somewhere upwards of 70%. While that keeps people from veering too far afield, it doesn’t do much for the psyche or employee morale. And while corrective feedback will help to reduce productivity losses and performance drops, it won’t make anyone want to do their job any better. Corrective feedback does just enough to keep people compliant.

Encouraging feedback on the other hand, is an effective tool to motivate employees to reach higher and actually want to do a great job. It’s simply thanking people for a job well done. How hard is that? Not very.

And the results can be phenomenal. Read this recent HBR article for study results.

The research showed that employee effectiveness improved dramatically with the introduction of encouraging (positive) feedback. People who performed the highest were given nearly six positive comments for every one negative comment. Folks who had moderate performance received almost two positive comments per negative one. And the lowest performers had to tolerate nearly three negative comments per positive one.

The interesting thing about the research is that the best performers still did receive some corrective (negative) feedback. This is likely due to the nature of corrective feedback. It is a wakeup call to keep us on track and pops us out of our natural tendency to become complacent.

To be an effective leader make it a goal to provide plenty of encouraging feedback, peppered with some corrective comments when needed and you will see your staff improve performance and increase engagement in their work.

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