The following excerpt, from the article Take the Initiative to Give Positive Feedback, was written by Don Peppers, Founding Partner of Peppers & Rogers Group at TeleTech, and published on LinkedIn. View the full article for additional information, then follow Peppers on LinkedIn for similar leadership advice.
One of my neighbors is a recently retired surgeon and one day not long ago when I happened to see him he was in a terrific mood. He told me he’d just received a phone call out of the blue, from someone he didn’t initially remember.
“Hello, is this Dr. ____?”
“Yes, this is he,” he said, “and to whom am I speaking, please?”
“My name is William _____, but I doubt you remember me.”
“No sir, I’m sorry, can’t say I do. Should I?”
“Well, Doctor, a little more than 22 years ago I nearly died from a terrible heart problem. You and your team operated on me and saved my life. Today is my 80th birthday, so I thought I ought to look you up and say ‘thanks!’”
No wonder my neighbor was in such a great mood! Wouldn’t you be?
When is the last time you took the time and trouble to give some delayed, positive feedback to someone in your organization? It doesn’t have to be as dramatic as this. (How could it be, unless you work as a medical professional, or maybe a first responder?) But even small compliments are capable of sustaining large relationships. “Hey, that was a really insightful comment you made at the meeting yesterday.” Or “I really liked the way you handled that personnel issue last week!” Or how about just “Great idea!”
Obviously, such feedback must be sincere and not just an idle compliment. But giving positive feedback can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Research has shown, for instance, that students randomly selected for positive feedback from their teachers are much more likely to excel in their studies.
In addition, positive feedback delivered the right way can dramatically boost your own spirits in addition to giving a lift to the person you're complimenting.
More than ten years ago we hired a new manager to open one of our non-US offices at Peppers & Rogers Group. When he came on board, for all his youthful enthusiasm, I worried that he might be too brash and aggressive to be successful as a senior manager. But over the last decade I’ve watched him blossom from a shoot-first salesman into a thoughtful, caring, and wise steward of our own consultants' talents and of our client relationships. It has been amazing to see, and the office he started up has grown into one of our best and most well-run operations.
So the other day, I did one of the most personally satisfying things I’ve done in a long time. I called him just to say “thanks.”