The Neutral Is Negative Conundrum
It’s been a bit of gap between posts here, but I have a goodie for you today!
Let’s talk about Affirmative Appreciation, and something I like to call the Neutral Is Negative conundrum.
There are many approaches to leadership and feedback, with many books written, many frameworks and many styles to leverage. It’s an art and a science to build the awareness of which specific combination is best applied in any given situation and context.
I want to advocate to everyone to lean into Positive Affirmation. That is, don’t just wave the stick when something needs remediation, take the time to offer the carrot when things are good.
It’s very easy to always target what’s broken … a metric is red, a poor interaction is observed, something doesn’t quite go as well as desired.
But it’s critical to remember to also provide praise for things done well, to take a moment to just make someone feel welcome, valued and appreciated. The incredible power of the endorphin rush many people get just hearing “hey, you’re doing good, we want you here and you make us better” makes this little moment in time an incredibly easy long lasting energy lift.
Here’s the bit I’ve learned: especially with direct reports, you need to ask each person what their Praise Currency is. Do they need to hear you say that in front of others because that forum provides them validation, do they need to hear it heartfelt in a closed 1:1 session because that personal connection is what matters to them. Maybe both!
For me, it’s the latter. I could give a rats ass about public praise. But that small intimate moment in a 1:1 where your boss takes a pause and says those magic words … “hey, you’re valuable to me, what you do makes a difference, we desire to have you here, you matter” … boy, that’s an endorphin rush that brings tears to the eyes and lasts for months!
The number of people I have conversations with who are in career planning mode, or needing guidance or some level of coaching who are having this discussion because they simply don’t feel fulfilled … all you leaders out there, you need to know that your lack of active participation in this aspect of leadership is NOTICED, and the worst thing is that your best people are the ones who will leave you first to go find it.
Note: I’m not discounting those that are financially driven or motivated by other things, usually in combo, each person has their Currency in which they trade. Just focussing on this one today.
So, here’s your action for today … go tell your people that they matter, that you value them, thank them for the contribution, and give them a weekend of joy knowing that on Monday they’ll be back and fizzing because they know they’re spending their time in a place where they matter.