We know, by now, that feedback isn’t a helpful means for improving performance or letting an employee know what they should or shouldn’t be doing. Your people don’t need or crave feedback from you — and it certainly isn’t necessary in order for someone to grow. What they do want is your attention and your genuine acknowledgement of the work they are doing. I’ve identified two ways to ‘coach’ your employees that will help them grow and improve:
- Give them your reaction.
People want your authentic reaction. Pay attention to what they’re doing and then translate your reaction to them, clearly and concisely. It’s an unassuming and more accurate way to guide your employee and you’re more likely to get the response you desire. Try substituting the word ‘reaction’ for ‘feedback’ the next time you engage your employee in a performance conversation. You will be astounded by how much better the message is received.
- React to what works.
Our natural instinct is to watch for things that are going wrong and course-correct from there. But it’s far more helpful to point out the moments that work, so your employee will know to repeat them. Making your employee conscious of what they do well will turn into the baseline of how they work. They will begin to notice their own patterns of excellence as you continue to point out what’s working, and the basis of their present goodness will create their future greatness.
Your responsibility as a leader isn’t to dole out feedback as a means of nurturing performance – because that won’t work. It is to react to your employees’ work; and react to what worked well. That is how you’re going to create a culture of excellence.