Using Positive Reinforcement to Improve Talent Retention

13th Apr , 2018

Why is it often so difficult to give your people positive feedback for a job well done? It should be regular and normal behaviour, yet some business owners and managers don’t do it. In not doing so, they run the risk of alienating or losing good and talented people who they want to keep!

French philosopher Voltaire wrote: “Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

Bill Gates said: “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”

It is often said in a business context that your employees are your most valuable asset. So, let them know you appreciate them and reward them for a job well done.

Praise is a powerful motivator. Most people react positively to praise, and it often encourages them to go above and beyond. Human beings need to be valued and appreciated. And as Ken Blanchard said: “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”

Fortunately, recognising excellence – or even effort to do well – is a skill that can be learnt with the help of an experienced business coach.

Where to Begin

Start with setting KPIs and expected behaviour and then regularly monitor progress in feedback sessions, providing both constructive criticism and positive feedback when they have done well or excelled. Be very careful how you give constructive criticism. As Frank A. Clark said: “Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.” Also ask them for their feedback on the business and how they are managed.

Here are some other tips to help you get started:

  • Know your people, including their talents, expertise, and how they respond to praise.
  • Reward excellence, whether it be a verbal commendation (preferably with their peer group present) or a tangible reward.
  • Give feedback if praise has been received from another area of the business, from customers or clients, or from other team members.
  • Let staff know if you’re concerned about them professionally or personally.
  • Talk and listen to your people regularly to develop relationships and fill in your understanding of them. You should take the time to convey more about yourself and your expectations and to understand your people’s expectations.
  • Make praise timely, as the more time that passes between great performance and recognition, the lower the impact of that recognition. Immediately is never too soon.
  • Make praise genuine. Don’t praise just for the sake of praising, as it will lessen the impact when you really do mean what you say.
  • Say thank you. Make it public or keep it between yourselves as appropriate to that specific person. If going public, share your positive feedback on an employee with your organisation. You can do so via email, your corporate newsletter or a company meeting. Sharing an employee’s accomplishment can inspire others to raise the bar.
  • Make all praise accurate and specific. Don’t just tell an employee he or she did a good job; tell them how they did a good job. Not only will they appreciate the gesture, but they’ll also know you pay attention to what they do, plus they’ll know exactly what to do the next time they’re in a similar situation.
  • Share your thoughts and concerns, and listen to their responses.

How Business Coaching Can Help

With the help of an International Business Mentor or business coach who is experienced in staff management, you can create a positive work environment in which your people will love to work. This in turn creates many spin-offs including effort and loyalty, and ultimately the business’s bottom line.

An experienced business mentor or business coach can assist in creating a positive culture that recognises and rewards good people for a job well done. Furthermore, they can help with business growth strategies and also suggest approaches and systems to monitor performance for both teams and individuals.

In the case of teams, for example, you need to make sure the right people are recruited with the right mix of diversity and skills. Team building exercises, often with an element of fun, can be a valuable investment, as can inter-team competitions.

Creating a Positive Culture

You can contribute to a more positive culture by taking these steps to recognise and reward hard work and achievement:

  • Go hunting – We’re conditioned to spend the majority of our time looking for issues and problems we can correct. Spend a little time trying to catch employees doing good things, too.
  • Be surprising – It’s good to celebrate birthdays, but an unexpected gift for doing well can also have a huge impact.
  • Strike a balance – Some employees will always be the stars, which is great, but try to find reasons to recognise the lesser performers, as this might be the trigger to improve their performance and give them greater motivation.

Final Tips

Recognising effort and achievement is self-reinforcing. When you do a better job of recognising your employees, they tend to perform better.

If criticism is warranted, state what went wrong, and reinforce how they can learn from it.

Not all the above will be relevant to all businesses. It’s likely that there will be some suggestions that are relevant or appropriate and others that are not.

This is just one of many areas in which an International Business Mentor or business coach can help. This can be done by assessing what works best in a particular business and looking at how to go about creating a positive culture that reinforces good work practices.

To enquire about how business coaching can assist your business with everything from positive reinforcement through to business growth strategies, call us today on (03) 8686 9192.

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