Don’t Take Good Work for Granted!

Good Work

good work word abstract – isolated text in letterpress wood type

It’s a common management trap to only give feedback when something is wrong, or when someone doesn’t meet our expectations.  That’s normal, because many managers have a “fix-it” radar, e.g. – see a problem and address it.

However, a variety of research through the years has shown that on average, people need about 4 times as much positive feedback as critical feedback.  When we hear about the positive impacts of our work, behavior and attributes, we know that what we do is valuable and appreciated.  It increases our engagement and happiness at work, and tactically we know what to keep doing or do more of.

Just saying “good job!” in an enthusiastic voice isn’t quite enough, though, and can lead to the recipient of your comment thinking you are insincere or can lead the person to be confused and unclear over what you are appreciating.  Make your statement of appreciation have the impact you intend by using this simple formula:

  • Thank you for (general description/situation).
  • I really appreciate (describe behavior and/or accomplishment).
  • As a result, (describe benefits, to you and/or others).

Example #1: Thanks so much for helping answer the phones yesterday.  I really appreciate how you jumped in when you saw Sarah and Miguel were overwhelmed with a long line of customers and couldn’t keep up with the phone calls.  As a result, people were helped quickly and I was able to really focus on what our client needed rather than rush him through the process.

Example #2: Thank you for speaking up in the meeting yesterday.  I really appreciate how you shared your concerns even if it felt risky.  As a result, you broke the ice so that others also felt comfortable speaking up, and I think we were able to have an honest conversation and come up with a better decision.

Example #3: Thank you for all your hard work through the year.  I appreciate how consistent you are with meeting deadlines, doing work with high quality standards, and just showing up every day.  As a result, you’re someone we all count on

You can simplify the formula – just be sure to link what you appreciate with its impact – e.g. – why you appreciate that behavior, accomplishment or attribute.

Example: Thanks for coming in to work with a smile and cheerful “hello!”  You really help us create a positive atmosphere that’s fun to work in.

Who can you appreciate?  It takes less than a minute!  Try it out and post a comment on what you notice from recipients of your compliments.

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