Recognition, validation and feedback- Pillars of effective communication

Pillars of effective communication

According to a study by Gallup institute only 26% of employees believe that messages about the tasks performed help them at work and are motivating for them. This is a very low value. Especially taking into account the fact that data on self-performance are crucial in the employee’s development.

Therefore, company employees need more than just a raw feedback. The real motivators are about what is human: recognition , acceptance and enhancement of self-esteem. The trick is to communicate messages in such a way that they both contain the necessary information and are motivating.

Interestingly, in the following generations, there is a clear growing tendency to pay attention to the way of communicating in the workplace. It is very strongly marked in the case of  Z  generation (born from around 1995 ). This tendency is so great that they believe that their well-being in a workplace is much more important than earnings or brand reputation!

A good manager therefore knows how to talk both face-to- face and with the whole group. Both of these options require a different approach, but in essence the goal is the same: motivating employees and building a friendly community. To achieve it, three most important tools available in the leader’s communication arsenal must be used:

  • Recognition,
  • Validation and
  • Feedback

Recognition — the art of seeing

In „Mastering Communication at Work” Ethan Becker describes how different employees respond to different types of motivation. An employee is usually  influenced by a mixture of several motivators  — the need for achievement, independence or power. Among them, there is also a need for recognition.

Of course the strength of a given motivator depends on the personality and needs of the employee. For some, certain needs will be more important than others. However, the need for recognition must always be met at least at a basic level.

What is this recognition really about?

It is about noticing the commitment and appreciation of employees for performing ordinary, not necessary outstanding work. This can be done directly, during a conversation with a specific employee, as well as by praising the whole group.

Recognition can also be transferred through a more formal channel  — through a raise, promotion or a small award. However, more important than its form is the very existence of recognition. Every employee needs to feel that their effort is important for the project and the people who participate in it. It is also a strong incentive for commitment. After all, even if the ordinary, solid work is noticed and appreciated , it is even more worth taking on tasks that require more initiative.

In short — recognition confirms the perception of the value of work, and hence the value of a person in the environment.

So what is worth paying attention to?

We can appreciate employees in several fields. This could be for example:

  • Noticing the progress and development of an employee, overcoming successive obstacles, and working more effectively
  • Competence, knowledge of the subject, creativity in solutions
  • Appropriate selection of the method of operation to the type of task, making decisions in the project and taking responsibilities for them
  • Initiative and commitment
  • Finding your own purpose and meaning in the work performed

Validation  — the art of understanding

Validation differs from recognition in one crucial point. Well, recognition is based on appreciation for work and achievements. Validation, however, is unconditional. We appreciate not the work itself , but the man behind it.

Each person needs to feel important in the community that they belong to. If the importance is only due to the fact that he carries out his tasks diligently, he will be under constant pressure. After all, making a mistake not only blemishes  the task at hand, but  also his social identity (a vision of oneself in the context of work environment).

Experienced managers know how important it is to integrate a team and appreciate its members as people, not only as employees. For this reason they use validation techniques consciously or less consciously. So they are interested in the well-being, needs and good relations with employees. They allow them to be themselves  in the workplace.

And one more thing… emotions

An important element of effective validation  is the consent to  the well-being and emotions appearing in the employee. If a person feels important he will be more likely to talk about his needs. In this case the reaction of the environment  is of great importance. If the person feels that his needs and emotions make sense, that they are justified and natural then he will be comfortable expressing them. This attitude is the foundation of trust and open cooperation.

Properly applied validation also shows that the manager is vigilant and responds to the needs of his employees. He is perceived as a committed listener, ready to devote his time to make his subordinates feel better.

It is also worth adding that validation does not have to equal consent. Not every employee’s need has to be met. There are times when  the company  does not have the resources or the ability to meet certain needs. In such situations, the most important thing is to argue why, despite  understanding the employee, we cannot meet some of his expectations.

Feedback — the art of informing

Trent Lorcher — a basketball coach, once wrote a story in an article about leadership competences. He mentioned the day his team suffered a loss in an important match. It  was due to  a long series of missed free throws.

Trent felt angry. He wanted to shout at his team. Instead, he chose to play it differently. The coach first praised the boys for their aggressive and committed play and provoking free throws. Then he took them to the gym, where they trained their unlucky throws together.

„My players depressed by the defeat, responded perfectly to a praise at that moment”

The coach knew what he was doing anyway. He provided the players with  feedback, which was  truthful, motivating  and showing the way to develop. He signaled them that a little practice would be enough for the next match to be victorious.

So how can we define feedback?

Simply put, it is feedback that usually concerns the performance of a particular task. However, the same information can be communicated in an infinite number of ways: from undercutting wings, to motivating and showing the way — as was  the case with  Trent Lorcher.

LeeAnn Renninger described the following 4 steps in  providing feedback in her speech at the TED conference :

  • Micro-yes — allow your employees to agree to a feedback conversation. Let them feel as if they have any control. You can communicate this, for example, by asking if they have a moment to talk about recent tasks.
  • Data point — Say exactly what the task or event is about.
  • Show impact — Show how this event made something change. It can be  about your company’s sales performance as well as your well-being.
  • End on a question — don’t make it a monologue. Let your interlocutor refer to the feedback. Ask him  how he sees the matter.

Good feedback, both negative and positive, is the basis for building professional relationships. Employees who know that the manager is up-to-date with their work, will know that they themselves  can ask him  for an opinion . It is worth taking advantage of this to create closer relationships with them.

The art of bad communication

Of course, communication with the employees is a complicated process. It often requires work from both sides to be effective. Therefore, it is worth knowing and recognizing the basic mistakes that we can make during it.

  1. While giving feedback, try to stay in the employee  — employer relationship. Do not play the role of a friend, because such feedback seems insincere. Of course, we also don’t want to be  too strict and too formal. The trick is to do it honestly but also respectfully.
  2. Remember that when trying to change someone’s opinion, it is very easy to enter the area of criticism and condemnation. Whether we show our disapproval with words or our body language — there is a good chance that the person on other side will feel compelled to defend herself. Once , this happens there is no chance of influencing her opinion.
  3. Let’s not focus on stigmatizing someone’s character traits. Instead, let’s describe specifically what behavior does not suit us. For example: instead of telling someone that he is „arrogant”, let’s describe the situation during  which the employee interrupted  the conversation with the client. Let’s also add why this behavior  did not suit us.
  4. Let us provide  feedback  immediately after the event. The longer we wait, the less potent the praise or remark becomes. Let us not delay especially if in our opinion the matter is serious. However, let’s be prepared enough to deliver a valuable , well-founded message.

By adhering to the principles, we are able to create an atmosphere at work, that will increase employee morale and commitment. Let’s not forget about recognition, validation and feedback, and people employed in our company will constantly develop their potential under our wings!

And if you are interested in the subject of internal communication in a medium or large company I invite you to learn more about our mobile communication application.

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