Whatever we think of our leadership, management, other services or products, success depends on meeting our customers’ needs. For that reason alone it’s wise and necessary to methodically gather feedback from customers including those within our organisations we exist to serve – our staff, our teams, colleagues and managers. However, I strongly advocate shifting the balance of feedback away from the everyday preponderance of negative judgements, to observations that acknowledge and support intentions, efforts and accomplishments.
How we encourage the heart and nourish the energy and spirit of our staff, co-workers, leaders and managers, is a vital issue in every organisation. The conventional imbalance, in favour of the primary task alone (getting results), moves energy away from the source of those results.
“When we are attuned to catch the sound of [only] a particular frequency, we miss the symphony of who we are and who we have become. The judging mind is not interested in exploring the whole truth, nor is it designed to measure the richness of all we have been given.” Wayne Muller.
People – at all levels in the organisation – who learn to “spot the good” (by looking for and commenting on it sincerely) make a significant contribution to workplace positivity and often have an influence well beyond the requirements of their roles. Those who also balance this skill with constructively confronting off-target behaviour, giving criticism and holding boundaries in ways that develop good relationships, are rare and should be highly-valued role-models.
What might our own pushing the envelope of encouragement do to our organisations, teams and to ourselves?
13 WAYS TO ENCOURAGE THE HEART
“Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” John Watson
“Be kind whenever possible; kindness is always possible.” The Dalai Lama.
- Become someone who sets out to find people doing the right things right. Increasingly, you will get what you look for.
- Frequently remind people of your confidence in their abilities and potential.
- Work methodically on sorting out your own issues and raising your own self-esteem: people who feel good about themselves find it easier to notice and feel good about others.
- Say “Thank You!” Then say why you did.
- When you ask for feedback, be very clear about what you need it to comment on and how and when you want it given.
- When you are given unhelpfully general feedback, ask questions to clarify specifics and meanings before you respond to it.
- When giving positive feedback avoid comment on absence of the negative (“Not bad.” “Better than last time!” “Thanks for not screwing up.” “That’s not stupid!” “I see your acne has cleared up.”) Comment on the presence of positives. (“I admire . . . I enjoy . . . I like the way you did that, especially . . . “)
- Give less negative feedback than praise.
- When you have negative feedback to give, follow it with positive feedback in greater quantity. Explain in advance that you intend to follow that order. They will be more inclined to listen.
- Find creative and imaginative ways to recognise others’ contributions to success.
- Publicly acknowledge people who demonstrate commitment to shared ideals.
- Collectively celebrate collective accomplishments.
- Concern yourself less with giving encouragement perfectly than on giving it with sincerity.
“It is the greatest of mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little. Do what you can!” Sidney Sheldon.
Regular mentoring sessions can provide you with support to research, plan and implement a programme of systematic change. Time-saving, stress-reducing, break-through outcomes are normal. You set the intentions and agenda. We plan and manage the plan together. Hardly any pain guaranteed.
© 2009-2014 Tom Watkins. All rights reserved.