Every leader has been told that offering positive feedback is one of the most valuable things you can do. You’ve heard of all the benefits. You may have heard that you don’t do it enough. If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve likely learned the basics of giving positive feedback successfully, such as:
All that is good advice, but it falls short of the mark if you want to make a long-term lasting difference in the self-image, confidence and performance of others. If you want to give positive feedback, consider doing more than just telling people what you have noticed, what their results have been and how you feel about their performance. Go a step further and write all those things down.
Hand-written feedback can be much more powerful
Here are four reasons why written feedback is so valuable.
- It is unusual. While most of us give far too little positive feedback to start with, we share it in writing rarely, if ever. When was the last time someone gave you positive feedback, encouragement or a specific “thank you” in writing? And I don’t mean in some quick email. I mean a genuine hand-written message. It’s rare these days, and that’s what makes it special.
- It implies importance. The time you take to form your thoughts and write them down demonstrates to the receiver the significance of the feedback, especially when you actually write it, with pen and paper.
- It can be preserved. Sure, people can remember verbal feedback. I know that I have had people tell me very nice things that I remember, and in some cases, I can even tell you the exact location that they told me. However, memories can fail, the details deteriorate, and those events and words can just be lost among the millions of moments in our lives. That’s not so with something in writing. Not only can the thoughts and comments be preserved, but you can bet that in many cases they will be saved for a very long time.
- It will be re-read and therefore reinforced. If you share verbal praise, your employees may savor it, but they likely won’t ask you to share it with them again. However, when it comes to hand-written notes, they will read it multiple times, especially if the feedback is meaningful. When they are feeling overwhelmed or they lack confidence, they will likely revisit your comments, and it could be just what they need to change their outlook.
Provide plenty of positive feedback and you will reinforce what employees are doing well and influence them to make wise decisions in the future. So think about:
- When was the last time you gave someone positive feedback in writing?
- What could you share in writing right now with employees?
Then grab some nice note cards, pick up a pen and start writing!
Photo Credit: photo credit: -svetlanaya-