In any coaching workshop I lead, or in any conversation with leaders that turns to coaching, the discussion of positive feedback will ensue. Here are just a smattering of the questions that come up.
- How much positive feedback should be given?
- Don’t people already know if they are doing it well?
- If I give them positive feedback will they get complacent or overconfident?
- If I give positive feedback will they ignore the negative/corrective feedback?
How Full is Your Bucket cites a study led by Dr. Elizabeth Hurlock in 1925 that studied 4th and 6th grade kids in math classes and how much they improved their skills based on what kind of feedback they received.
Children in one group were praised in front of the class for their work; those in a second group were criticized. A third group stayed in the class but was neither praised nor criticized, and the fourth, a control group, was moved to another room after the first test.
By the end of the fifth day, the results showed:
Those given praise – 71% improvement
Those criticized – 19% improvement
Those ignored – 5% improvement
(all improvements are compared to the control group)
If this study and the results don’t tell you something about the amount of positive feedback you should be sharing with those around you, I’m not sure what would.
While this study gives us a clear picture of the power of positive reinforcement (praise) in improving performance, it says something else too. Notice that the group that received negative feedback (criticism) also did better than those who were ignored – or received no feedback at all.
While I want you to remember the extreme advantages positive feedback provided, realize that correction is still important – and both are far better than no coaching or feedback at all.
Think about the feedback you give to others. What percentage of it is positive, encouraging and reinforcing? Do you think that your results might improve in supporting, coaching and leading others if you chose to provide more positive feedback?
Do a self analysis, then identify ways you can be more supportive and encouraging, starting today.
Consider these questions – about positive feedback and feedback in general . . .
Are you giving enough positive feedback?
Are you giving regular feedback at all? (and no the annual review isn’t enough)