Discover the ratio of feedback needed for people to perceive fair treatment (based on multiple studies).
- We all learned early on the adage "Praise in public, criticize in private," and some of us were taught to deliver bad news as a little sandwich, a little praise, the hammer, and then a little more praise to soften the blow. We now know, from work done by the University of Michigan, that the ratio of praise to criticism so that people perceive they're being treated fairly is actually six to one. Another study published in the Harvard Business Review found the same ratio to be effective, and this holds true for how teams and organizations treat each other. Low ratios of praise to criticism are also accurate predictors of divorce, too. When leading the organization, it's important to be intentional about the standards of interaction because the cause and effect is well-documented. Let's talk about how you can create a fairness ratio as a team standard. Be timely, whether your leaders are delivering positive or negative feedback, it needs to be delivered as close as possible to the behavior that was observed, and that behavior has to be observed not via a third party, and saying, "I shouldn't have to thank people "for doing their job," is unacceptable. You do have to thank people specifically, which is point number two. Give specific and personalized feedback. "Good job," or "Well done" just doesn't cut it. You have to take the time to state specifically what you observed and the consequences it had. For example, "Kristen, thanks for redirecting "the meeting today when it got off track. "You rallied the team and now we're more focused than ever." Conversely, criticism is also extremely important, and it has to be delivered with empathy to build trust and strengthen trust, which is our third point, forge trust. Research shows 80% of employees do not trust their boss to tell the truth, so you have to ensure you've developed a basis of trust and that you're able to convey positive and negative feedback in a way that's perceived as caring, that doesn't mean too soft or too hard, but that conveys confidence that you know the person can meet the high standards that are the pillars of your organization. Positive and negative employee feedback have their place and time. Get the ratio of positive and negative feedback right, be timely, give specific feedback, and forge trust. Your leaders will constructively strengthen the relationships they have with their team, and those bonds will lead to engagement and results, and maybe a little happiness, too.