Sad to say, but appreciative recognition is often the first casualty in the rush and stress of deadlines, new initiatives, making the numbers, hiring, firing, and reorganizing. Many managers simply aren’t very good at giving positive feedback. Some even find it harder to recognize a colleague’s contribution than to offer negative or corrective feedback.
Coaching can uncover this tendency and offer opportunities to express genuine appreciation.
I know a manager (let’s call her Daniella). She was supervising a project leader whose people were not functioning well together. Daniela’s coaching style, including careful listening and incisive questioning, led her projecct leader to reveal that he offered little acknowledgment to his people. “They’re paid to do their jobs,” he said. “I don’t feel they need to be rewarded all the time.”
By helping the project leader shine a light on this behavior, Daniela offered a hard-working, results-driven manager an opportunity to see that he couldn’t remember ever offering positive reinforcement to his troops. This had led to a dispirited and disengaged group…hardly a “team” at all.
Recognition is directly related to engagement, performance, and retention. Moreover, acknowledging contributions should be timely, specific, and genuinely linked to the team’s objectives.
Once the project manager perceived the benefits of acknowledging performance, Daniella encouraged him to explore a variety of ways of going about it. Often, it’s simply a matter of thanking someone for going the extra mile, for staying late to finish a proposal, for taking over when someone is out sick, for stepping up.
There are other opportunities to recognize performance as well. One-on-one feedback is basic. Public recognition can also be very powerful, whether in the company newsletter, a quarterly meeting, or a team or department meeting. In their coaching conversations, Daniela and her project leader generated a long list of meaningful rewards—from token awards that simply say “nice job,” to gift certificates, days off, and even professional development opportunities such a subsidized courses or conferences.
Daniela also recognizes that coaching itself is a form of acknowledgment. It put her hard-working project leader front and center, and nourished his own potential to up his game, acknowledge outstanding performance on his team, and become a more effective manager in the process.
How has acknowledgment directly affected your own performance?
How do you acknowledge the performance of your people?
If you found this post helpful, check out “About the Book” on this blog, and order yourself a copy of “What could happen if you do nothing?” A manager’s handbook for coaching conversations.