See Something? Say Something!

Rene' Boer Insights

You can’t be a Great Boss if you shy away from giving feedback, either positive or negative. Today’s message is about the importance of both praise and criticism. In other words, when you see something, you must say something!

When asked about feedback, most employees say they would prefer it to be positive – no surprise there. But what may surprise you is that they would rather have negative feedback than no feedback at all.

Let’s start with positive feedback. Napoleon once said, “a soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of yellow ribbon”. Although compensation is important, studies have shown that people will work longer and harder for recognition than they will for pay.  But, despite this, many bosses admit that they are not very good at recognizing and rewarding great performance.

Equally important is to offer criticism when performance and results don’t meet your expectations. You’re doing a disservice to the person, yourself and your organization when you fail to recognize, criticize and correct poor performance or unacceptable behavior.

It’s important to do both but you should praise people more often than you criticize them. Think of it as your checking account – keep a positive balance.  And, remember – praise in public and criticize in private – don’t mix this up.

Here’s a simple illustration regarding Praise and Criticism. As a boss, ask yourself which quadrant you fall into:

Quadrant 1 – “The Cheerleader” constantly praises people for their efforts even when goals and rocks aren’t met. Their praise is viewed as disingenuous because it’s not earned. And, they soft-pedal any criticism. The “criticism vacuum” they create leads to people blaming each other for poor results;

Quadrant 2 – “The Poor Boss” doesn’t get it. His attitude can be summed up as “Just do your job! That’s what I pay you to do.” The resulting “feedback vacuum” causes people to wonder if they’re meeting expectations, low morale and turnover;

Quadrant 3 – “The Taskmaster” fears that praise will lead to complacency and an expectation that the person will expect a reward … like a pay increase. The “praise vacuum” leaves people wondering if they’ll ever meet expectations because results never seem to be enough.

Quadrant 4 – “The Great Boss” truly gets the importance of balancing genuine praise and helpful criticism. This promotes a healthy organization and a culture of accountability.

That’s today’s message.  I encourage you to balance genuine praise with helpful criticism and to say something when you see something. Until next time, Be a Great Boss.