A manager at a call center asked me:
My direct reports are asking for daily recognition. How can I do that most effectively?
I consider “recognition” to be “positive performance feedback.” The best managers give daily performance feedback, often in just two or three sentences.
Before you move forward, here’s some useful background listening (a podcast) and reading.
At your next staff meeting, ask your direct reports:
- (Ask them to write this down first): What does “recognition” mean to you, exactly? What might it look like? Think of 3-4 ways.
- (Discuss for 5-10 minutes): What things should be recognized?
- (Ask and brainstorm): Suppose I have five minutes a day per person I can spend on this — what can I as your supervisor best do in that time?
My further suggestion is that you do these two things:
Each day, ask 1:1 as you drop by each person’s cube, “What did you do today that was especially good?” (Ask after a few hours of work have elapsed.)
Each week, ask 1:1 “Where are you trying to improve in your job?” then ask daily “When did you make even a tiny bit of progress on that goal?”
For example in your weekly 1:1 you learn (or co-create) that Fred is working on Empathy on his calls. You ask him to reflect on how he can do that, how he can learn the skill, how he can practice it, how he can remind himself during the day IN THE MOMENT to use the new skill.
Ask him to keep an open spiral notebook by the phone to jot down the date/time and some notes on calls where his empathy was especially high or low, and his thoughts on why it went the way it did.
Now you walk by his cube daily and ask him what his best call was that day with regard to empathy. Listen deeply yet briefly, “without memory or desire” — just hear him, his emotions, what he says and what he doesn’t say.
If he reports a success, enjoy it with him. If he’s struggling, encourage him. (See my 8-minute video here and notice what’s needed for Quadrant Two: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6dO9j8JDls) Remind him that growth is always accompanied by discomfort.
Please, email me your thoughts after you read the article and listen to the podcast above.
If your team asks for more feedback, I believe you absolutely must respond constructively to that request.
Most of us spend a lot of ‘dead’ time in the car. To listen to good ideas in the car, get audio books from the library.
Here are some titles I recommend (some like 2R Manager may only be available in print) for growing your ability to give this sort of feedback:
- Thinking Fast and Slow (note the Kindle price!) by Daniel Kahneman (B3 Level 1-2)
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg (B3 Level 1)
- The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You by Karla McLaren (B3 Level 2)
- The 2R Manager by Friedes (B3 Level 3-4)
- Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone by Marc Goulston (B3 Level 3)
- The Progress Principle by Amabile and Kramer (B3 Level 4)
Take the time to journal between book chapters. Exposure to the book is not enough — it’s in the processing of it that we learn most rapidly and deeply. Form a book discussion group or add yourself to the waiting list for a Becoming a Best Boss peer coaching group.