More and more managers appreciate a different style of leadership, the one, which is less focused on being the expert or authority, and more focused on having the wisdom, experience and the ability to draw the best out of people by asking for their contribution. Drawing the best out of others not only helps them and therefore the organisation, it helps their families and people around them in the process. The more confident society we have, the less problems and conflict there are likely to occur.
Similarly, the more employees are encouraged to be vulnerable and admit when they don’t know, the less perfectionism is cultivated in workplaces and households.
A child needs to receive both positive and constructive feedback. Without positive reinforcement, a child will not learn what they do well and gain confidence and self belief. Like a mother who gives her child love and care for the child to feel secure and confident in life, so does the manager need to praise their employees for their good performance for them to be confident in the work they do, especially at the learning stages of their employment.
So why is it not done more often. Lack of time? Lower priority? Perhaps positive feedback is not provided out of fear of the other person becoming better ‘at it’ than us? Wanting to be in control may be one reason why managers don’t practice providing positive feedback and as a result, don’t invest in the development of others. They want to be at the top of the decision making process.
But to get rid of control one needs to have a belief in their own abilities, even the boss. Positive feedback is one way of reinforcing more of the behaviour we want in others. Managers and employees - they all need to hear when a job is done well. So, if we want our bosses to be less of an expert and more of a collaborative type who will be willing to discuss alternatives with us, we need to tell them that we appreciate their efforts in resolving a problem or when they are open to suggestions or ideas. Without that, they will not know.
So often we complain about managers not providing positive feedback, the managers who focus on our mistakes or at the best of times, on improving our weaknesses. What about us providing such a manager with positive feedback about their work – a specific event or praising them for work well done, what about appreciating their efforts more often? Do you think that would help in communication? Or would it encourage them to listen to what you believe is important?
The boss needs to receive feedback, especially when he takes the risk to be vulnerable and adapt saying: I don’t know. Such a boss needs to know what he does well and when he does that so that the culture of collaboration and support, growth and development for all continues.
How can we achieve more at work?
Be more vulnerable – admit if you don’t know and be curious to explore the options with others. It presents you in a different light and encourages others to be vulnerable and admit to mistakes, if they occur, too.
Tell them why you are doing it and encourage vulnerability – if it is a change in your behaviour and you don’t know how your new style will be received, tell them why you are more open to others’ opinions and less focused on being the expert. Tell them it is important for everyone to contribute and collaborate and have others on board – not just for one to decide.
Ask for contribution – ask others what they think and how they would do it? Everyone learns in the process.
Ask for feedback – ask how others perceive your actions and how they can be improved. Do it regularly and often, it doesn’t have to be formal.
Take time to provide positive feedback – taking time to do it is the key element. When things go wrong we have time to sit down and explore the alternatives, but when things go smoothly we move on to the next thing on the 'to do' list. We need to take time to be in the moment to celebrate the achievements more and acknowledge those who contributed most. If we don’t do it neither good events nor behaviours are likely to be repeated again.