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3 Reasons Saying 'Good Job!' Isn't Good Enough to Motivate Your Team

06/04/2015 12:10 pm ET | Updated Jun 04, 2016
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We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve.
-Bill Gates

Very often, it is as difficult for business owners to give positive feedback as it is to give corrective feedback. So, the default phrase is usually "Good job."

Feedback is like a gift... and as with any gift, the initial impression is in the wrapping. Think about how you'd feel receiving a gift not wrapped nicely, just sort of thrown your way with little thought or sincerity.

Now think of how differently you might feel receiving a gift that is lovingly wrapped, given with pride and thoughtful consideration.

That analogy represents the difference between giving ordinary, bland feedback like "Nice job" and delivering effective, sincere feedback that actually tells a person what was good.

Why Saying "Good Job!" Doesn't Work
Often times business owners say things like "good job" when providing feedback to employees or contractors. On the plus side, the team member is getting some acknowledgment. The problem is that saying "Good job!" actually feels a little insincere because everyone says it. Saying "good job" is basically a default and loses meaning because of the frequency in which it is used.

Even if you are being sincere, it doesn't really tell the person anything.

When someone tells you "good job", what can you actually do with that? Sure, it's nice to hear, but don't you want to know more information? For instance, what exactly was good? What should you continue doing? What might you need to do differently next time?

Just saying "Good job" doesn't allow you to capitalize on the many benefits effective feedback can provide you.

The benefits of effective feedback are many: People know where they are performing against expectations, they're able to make course corrections when needed, they're able to continue the behavior that is leading to results, and they can receive acknowledgement for a job well done. All of these affect your bottom line.

Guidelines for Delivering More Effective Feedback
These four essential guidelines will help you deliver impactful feedback:

1. Make it timely. Provide feedback as soon as possible after the behavior has occurred. When you delay, you run the risk that the feedback you do provide will lose its impact and meaning.

2. Be specific. Provide clear, accurate information. Be direct about the situation, the behavior and the actions, and how the behavior impacted others or the organization. This type of feedback shows the person what behaviors should be repeated. In cases where expectations went unmet, specific feedback will help show the person what should be changed (and why).

3. Focus on the facts.One of the most challenging aspects of providing feedback is to withhold your own personal judgments and interpretations. Feedback should be all about the observable behavior, actions, and interactions - not about the person.

4. Show that you're sincere. Feedback that sounds insincere will most likely not have any meaning or impact for the recipient. Worse, insincere feedback typically backfires. State feedback with conviction and honesty - say what you mean and mean what you say.

Using the SBI Framework to Provide Effective Feedback
SBI is an acronym for situation, behavior, and impact - it's a model used to deliver feedback effectively that was originally developed by the Center for Creative Leadership:

1. Describe the situation where the behavior was observed.
2. Describe the behavior- the specific and factual actions or interactions that were observed by you or others.
3. Describe the impact - the effect the behavior had on others such as clients or team members, and/or the results.

Here's a simple example showing the SBI model in action:

Situation: Jane, at today's meeting you really blew everyone away with your new proposal.

Behavior: It was extremely well-done...The client was really impressed by your attention to detail and willingness to involve and acknowledge all members of the team. You clearly demonstrated how we're on the leading edge of technology and why we're in the best position to deliver results to the client.

Impact: This really represents a great first step in building our relationship with the client because it shows we're open to innovative, outside-the-box thinking and to providing long-term support.

You can also use this same framework when providing corrective feedback - this will help the other person see how they might take a different approach.

Stay tuned for my next article, which will delve deeper into ways you can deliver corrective feedback more effectively so that you and your team can meet business objectives.

What strategies are you using to provide meaningful feedback to the people who work for you?