Leadership Training course newsletter – Giving Praise and Feedback

Our Leadership and Teambuilding training courses are designed to improve leadership skills and allow our delegates to be able to lead successful and high performing teams. Our team building workshops are packed full of useful teamwork training exercises, tips and techniques that new and experienced managers will find essential in showing how to lead effectively and will put them on the steady route of becoming successful managers and team leaders. Delegates who have taken our Leadership and Teambuilding courses have now gone on to lead highly productive teams and improving productivity by becoming better managers, motivators, delegators and leaders.

Leadership and team building is a training course that is both challenging and practical. We aim to teach the fundamental ‘people management skills‘ in a positive and constructive environment. It has been designed to enable delegates to understand the basic fundamentals of strategy and motivation in team building. You will benefit by learning tips and techniques that will increase your competence and confidence when managing, influencing and leading teams and individuals.

Praising Individuals

There are several Golden Rules to observe:

  •  Make sure that you do it. Be timely and don’t blame pressures of work for missing the opportunity
  •  Giving praise as soon as possible after the completion of the task or assignment adds immediacy and reinforces the importance of your message
  •  Don’t overdo it. Make sure you don’t devalue the currency by doing it too often or too easily
  •  Always be genuine and sincere. Adjust what you say, and how you say it to the individual
  •  Put yourself in their shoes – how would YOU like to be treated in this situation?

The key steps

As with most things in life there is a series of steps which seems to give the best results. You may find the following useful:

1. Refer to a specific piece of work/project or behaviour.

2. Say what you particularly liked and why it had an impact on you.

3. Let them know the wider impact/consequences of their actions

4. Express your confidence that they can do it again with the same level of success

5. Follow through with a request or onto a negative area

6. Close on an uplifting and motivating note

Let’s walk through each step in a little more detail

1. Refer to a specific piece of work or project or behaviour

For any form of praise to be seen as credible and not just flattery you must discuss a specific piece of work or project. This also ensures you are both talking about the same issues. Remember to praise the action or result – not the person. Let’s imagine you’re recognising someone’s efforts – the conversation could start like this:

“Sam, can you spare a few minutes to talk about the project you’ve just completed?”

2. Say what you particularly liked and why it had an impact on you

Most people who attempt to deliver a compliment fail because they only give part of the message – they tell the other person what they like but don’t say why they like it. The power of a compliment depends on sincerity – only telling them what you like sounds like flattery. So never tell someone what you like without telling them why you like it. This also establishes your position as leader as you let your staff know what they can do to please you.

For most people the sound of their name is the most beautiful sound, so use it whenever you’re giving a compliment to someone. It also demonstrates that you are addressing them personally. Use the person’s name just before the key part of your message – it will guarantee their interest for what follows.

3. Let them know the wider impact/consequences of their actions

If they know how positive or consequential their actions were it helps to imbed into them the value of their work, behaviour or results.

‘marketing thought it was great too as it saves them time on mailouts’

‘shows a great example to the rest of the team, well done’

4. Express your confidence that they can do it again with the same level of success

Help them to develop the confidence that they can do it again – that it wasn’t a ‘one off’.

“Seeing the confident way you handled this project leaves me feeling very comfortable about your work with the new team.”

5. Follow through with a request or link to a negative

The follow-through demonstrates your genuine interest in what they have done, so minimising the possibility of your comments appearing superficial. It also helps to prevent them from dismissing the praise lightly.

“Would you be prepared to give a short presentation to the managing board on how you approached the project?”

It also works if you have a negative area to discuss as it allows you to link a positive to a negative.

“…….. that’s why I like to get all of your performance to this standard….”

“…….. that brings me onto your attention to detail. I know you like to work fast and that’s great but sometimes you forget to send all the documentation in your haste…..”

6. Close on an uplifting and motivating note

By closing on an uplifting and motivating note you ensure that the other person leaves feeling really good about themselves. This is particularly important if you have discussed ways in which the project could have been handled even better.

“Overall the team is doing really well and we are meeting all our targets. Things are looking good for all of us. Thanks for all your efforts, Sam.”

“I particularly like the way you got to the root cause of the problem. 1 must be honest, Sam, and tell you that it gave me an insight into the problem 1 hadn’t seen before.”

What if it’s only been a partial success?

Let’s be honest – not every project will be a complete success. So how can we recognise someone’s efforts in this situation? Clearly we want to strike the right balance – to be encouraging whilst not devaluing the praise we give.

We want to use the successful parts of the project as an opportunity to improve the person’s self-esteem and build up their confidence to do better next time. On the other hand we must avoid leaving the impression that partial success is acceptable.  This is where careful use of balanced praise is so essential. Open the discussion concentrating on what’s gone well so that the other person can see that you have been pleased with some or most aspects of the project or task. Once you can sense that they are feeling relaxed you can move on to the areas which were not so successful. You can steer the discussion by using questions like:

“So that’s all gone well. With the benefit of hindsight are there any aspects which you think could have gone better?”

“When you think ahead to the next time this comes up, do you see any opportunities to do it more effectively?”

Once you have acceptance that things could be done differently you can then move into a positive coaching role. Close the discussions by reinforcing your confidence in their abilities, based on the parts which had gone well. Remember

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

Where to do it?

So now we know what should be done – where should all this be happening? The following guidelines may be useful:

  •  Whenever possible give praise in public, bearing in mind the individual’s preferences and wishes
  •  Consider publicising particular achievements using ‘Employee of the month’ type promotion in prominent places
  •  If public praise would be counter-productive, because of a possible adverse reaction, then praise in private or a limited gathering
  •  Any discussions about adverse performance must be held in private

What else can we do?

There are of course many other ways public recognition for individual effort can be given. Irrespective of the actual method adopted, many of the underlying guidelines remain the same.