The Leadership Cookbook: The Most Effective Feedback for Your Employees

Why’d you do that?” All it takes is seven or eight “whys” to completely dismantle most people’s confidence. This is especially the case if the tone of voice or body language of the person asking is threatening in any way.

Don’t do that!” From about the age of three, most of us have heard (and still hear) far more “don’ts” than “do’s.” Study on brain physiology is pretty clear: The average human brain does not really hear the contraction “don’t”; we hear “do.” Ironically, “don’t actions” get us attention, so oftentimes the behavior that gets the “don’t” continues. Is that your intention in coaching to the “don’t?” I doubt it.

“Nice job!” “Great work!” “You look good!” These compliments are nice to get. However, they fail to actually serve as feedback. “Behave like Sarah; she’s a really good worker.” This is a great compliment for Sarah, but for you following Sarah, which of the 55 actions she just performed are the ones that are “really good?” Can Sarah even tell you what she’s doing in action that is seen as good work? Often, the answer is no.

There is an alternative, and that is to provide feedback that is data-based. Take data-based feedback one step further and coach that behavior to the positive! Actually, coach any behavior to the positive. This statement is easy to say. But how can you make it work?