The secret to higher performance

As a leader you influence the performance of the people you work with – both positively and negatively. When I reflect on the different bosses that I had during my own career, I have no doubt that some people managed to get more consistent high level performance from me than others.

So what’s the secret of getting people to perform at a higher level more often?

Well, there is no secret. But one thing that is very important is feedback. Successful leaders give people regular, constructive feedback.

If you want to get the best out of me, give me regular, constructive feedback. When I do something well, tell me. I like that. Even if it’s what I’m being paid to do.

I like being complimented when I do good work and it motivates me to keep it up. And, I like being told when my work is not as good as it should be. As long as it’s done respectfully, I appreciate it when someone takes the time to let me know that they’re disappointed or unhappy with my work. It helps me make sure I do it better next time and I like to improve.

And it’s not just me. There is extensive research that demonstrates the power of constructive feedback. In their ongoing research to identify what makes a great place to work, The Gallop organisation found that receiving recognition or praise for doing good work every 7 days is one of the best predictors of higher performance among employees.

Think about your “best boss ever”. I bet that amongst the many things they did well, up front and centre was the practice of providing you with insights and feedback on your work. How regularly someone wants feedback will vary, but pretty much everyone I know appreciates and responds well to feedback.

Yet I am constantly bemused by the fact that many leaders don’t provide people with much positive feedback. Some leaders (a minority) rationalise that it’s OK not to give positive feedback. “They’re paid to do a job, so why should I congratulate them for doing what they’re paid for?”

Many leaders understand the benefit of giving regular feedback, but don’t. They get caught up in the constant chaos of email, meetings and phone calls and simply don’t focus on this critical leadership task. They rationalise “if they don’t hear from me, they know I’m happy with their work”. But do they?

If you really want to get the best out of your people, you need to give them regular, constructive feedback – positive and negative. Keep it real, keep it authentic, but make sure you make the time to do it. It’s what great leaders do.

Mark Rosenberg