Compliments; Instant productivity improvement for software teams, with a small effort….

Wordle: feedback

Hello, you project manager/team leader. I expected this title to grasp your attention. Would you like to know how to improve the performance of your team members?  This can be done without massive statistics or an expensive performance improvement program. This magic pill is called positive feedback. Just give your team members the credits for their work and compliment them for their achievements.

As a project manager we are aimed on the end result. In our day to day job we are focused on the things that are not yet done and the things that could go wrong. This focus on future result and possible impediments make us forget the past achievements of our team.

Most of the time we give our team members feedback about late delivery, bugs, wrong interpretation of features or counterproductive behavior. Your team members are only pointed on wrong behavior; they will not become more productive with this negative feedback. When we give positive feedback it is often followed by a …BUT… (Good job on implementing the interface, but next time remember to update the test cases also.) This form of feedback is often the result of learned behavior we’ve got instructed in one of these “soft skills” trainings. In these trainings we learn: ‘Package behavioral improvement feedback with some form of positive feedback’. How stupid do these trainers think our team members are? For the receiver of the feedback it is obvious that this is only a technique and not sincere. Only the negative part is remembered.  And you leave a negative impression and are not taken serious.

I propose the ..AND… feedback. Use this only when you are really since. Let people know you have seen their effort and tell them you appreciate it. ‘Thank you Bert for implementing the interfaces AND keep up the good work’.

Why only focus on those thing that have gone wrong. If your team is serious then they also see these things. Give them the chance to improve by themselves. This is more powerful then punishing them with negative feedback. When the team delivers good work, then compliment them. Also, when they were just doing their work. Of course, there is always room for improvement. Especially when you have high quality standards of your own. Does everyone have to comply with your standards? Or just to comply with the standards to get the project delivered in time within the project’s quality standards.

Giving sincere compliments will cost you almost no extra energy. Your team will feel proud about their job and appreciated. They will cooperate better and become more productive. And when they are appreciated they will be likely to go the extra mile for the project (and for you).

Put your own pride aside and start complimenting.

And when you receive a compliment, take the time to accept it. Do not diminish it by stating all the things that have gone wrong, you did not do or did not finish. You’ve probably earned it. Just say “Thank you, that means a lot coming from you.”

Finally: I want to thank you for reading this posting AND I love your feedback.