This Common Feedback Technique Is Hurting Your Best Employees. Here’s What to Do Instead
Content was originally published on Inc.com on September 6, 2018.
Over the past decade of business coaching, I have helped thousands of business owners grow and develop their key employees. A task, which isn’t always an easy feat. Most managers and business owners tend to point out flaws and places for improvement when coaching their direct hires. They feel that such an approach will help their employees correct their behavior and do better in the future. Our experience however shows the exact opposite.
Pointing out an employees shortcomings and flaws too often can wear down a talented employee and lead to poor performance and self-doubt.
This is why we teach our business coaching clients the spot and freeze method.
Spot Growth And Verbalize It
Instead of pointing out the negative, point out the positive growth that you see in your employees. When they complete a tough project, land a client or simply tackle a task that they might not have been able to do a month before, make sure to point it out.
Let them know that you are pleased with their progress and that you are rooting for their success. This positive reinforcement will get you more of the same behavior in the future.
This could sound like:
“Paul, I saw the Scrimshaw proposal and it was fantastic. When I compare how you laid out the scope of work and suggestion course of action in that proposal versus the early proposals you did a year ago when you first came aboard I can see such growth in your capabilities…” Or,
“Yoon, congratulations on getting phase one deliverables to the client. That was a key milestone…”
Dan and Chip Heath, authors of the bestselling book Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard do an amazing job of explaining this concept. They encourage readers to “celebrate bright spots” and then work towards building on those areas. Do this for your employees and your business, and you will experience unprecedented growth in both.
Freeze Victories And Teach Employees To Feel Them
Being able to spot and verbalize success is a great first step to growth, but you want to take it to the next level by freezing the victory and really feeling the impact of such an action.
Ambitious workers (and most business owners if we are being honest) tend to be perfectionists. They are really hard on themselves and tend to internalize mistakes and failures.
“I finished the McMurry presentation with time to spare. And next time I will add…”
“I was able to land that account that I have been working on for several weeks now. But, I really should have…..”
“We finished out the quarter 25% above our projections, which is great, but next quarter I hope for 35%….”
This kind of thinking isn’t conducive to a growth mindset. Instead coach your employees to stop before the “but” or the “and” in the above sentences. Teach them to stop and freeze for just a moment and appreciate the victory. It will feel strange at first, especially if you have a tendency towards perfection yourself, but the results will be worth it.
“I finished the McMurry presentation with time to spare.”
“I was able to land that account that I have been working on for several weeks.”
“We finished out the quarter 25% above our projections.”
Once you are able to learn how to freeze the moment, focus on the feeling. The emotional satisfaction of a job well done. Don’t think about the things that you could have done differently… that comes later. Just take in the moment and let the employee feel the pride in a job well done.
They will will feel motivated to continue in the same direction to get that feeling again and again. Which leads to growth and development for everyone involved.