Truthful, Specific and Positive Feedback

Rene' Boer People

In my last post I helped you understand the importance of giving your direct reports both genuine praise and helpful criticism. Today, I want to elaborate on how to give genuine praise.

I recently attended the 2nd Annual Conference for Companies Running on EOS, held in Minneapolis.  It was my privilege to speak on the topic of being a great boss and to listen to a wonderful speaker, Michael Allosso. In his keynote address entitled, “You on Your Best Day”, he emphasized the importance of genuine praise being truthful, specific and positive – “tsp” for short.  I like the abbreviation “tsp” because it reminds us that a teaspoon of praise can deliver a gallon of positive reinforcement for a job well done.

Let’s take them one at a time:

  • Truthful – give credit where credit is due and how it was earned. It must be believable to the receiver and if the praise is given in public it must be believable to his or her peers;
  • Specific – provide some details of what the person did, why it was important and how it helped you and your organization;
  • Positive – the feedback must be 100% positive and never end with qualifying words such as “but” or “however”.

You’re probably giving praise that’s truthful and positive but is it specific? Be specific so your praise has the most impact on the person. Here’s a couple of examples:

“Mike, thank you so much for staying late on Tuesday to help us meet the deadline for getting the quote to XYZ Corporation.  We have an excellent chance to win this work which will help us stay on track to meet our net profit goal for the year.  I’ll keep you posted!”

“Mary, I can’t thank you enough for helping James learn the ins and outs of our new field reporting system. He told me he enjoys working with you because you are patient and very good at explaining why the data needs to be entered into the system.”

Now, here’s an action item for you: catch someone doing something well and give feedback that is truthful, specific and positive.