information, encouragement, and appreciation

When I teach about feedback, I make a distinction between change-focused feedback, reinforcing feedback, appreciation/gratitude, and encouragement.

Feedback is information that we hope will influence future behavior.

Change-focused feedback is information about a behavior or result that the feedback giver would like to see change. For example, “Jane, I notice that you’ve come 15 minutes late to our last three staff meetings. When you arrive late, it disrupts that meeting and we have to re-visit topics that we’ve already covered.”

Reinforcing feedback is information about a result or behavior to that’s working well–something to continue. For example, “Jane, as I read your report, I really noticedd the way you’ve presented the evidence. Each fact builds upon the previous data. The way you’ve organized this report makes it easy for me to follow and builds a compelling case.”

This is different from saying “Your report was very effective,” which doesn’t give Jane any information about what made the report effective.

Encouragement and appreciation/gratidute aren’t really feedback. None-the-less, they’re important because they build relationships by letting people know you notice them and their efforts.

Encouragement is an expression of support, such as “way to go” or “keep it up.” Encouragement inspires confidence and heartens.

Apprecation or gratitude is telling someone that you’ve noticed something they’ve done that’s had a positive impact for you or the team. I use a specific form: “[name of person], I appreciate you for showing me how the build works.”

(I started emphasizing this distinction after a fellow told me he was going to give his wife some re-inforcing feedback on cleaning the kitchen. eerrr… not a good idea. Appreciation would be a better choice. “Honey, I appreciate you for cleaning the kitchen…it’s so nice to come home to a clean kitchen.”)