“Like.” “Like.” “Like.” “Thumbs up.” “Heart.” This is the feedback we give and receive on social media. It’s a thrill to see someone like what we shared. It’s also fun to give this feedback, sharing with others that we agree in some way. But what meaning does it have?
Not much in most cases. This feedback is done quickly with the press of a finger. Some apps don’t even require that the article or post is read to give feedback. The simple fact that it was posted or shared allows us to acknowledge a contribution. This is a reward for simply “showing up”, the type of feedback that grates on most of us.
It is also the excuse that many leaders give for not providing feedback. They want to acknowledge “real contribution” not the “show up” kind and therefore don’t provide much, if any, feedback. No wonder we are all wanting for it!
This excuse for not providing feedback also gives insight into the real reason behind the lack of feedback. It takes effort. Meaningful feedback comes from acknowledgment of a person’s contribution or effort. It sounds like this:
- You helped the team reach an important goal with your skillful handling of that tricky client situation.
- The effort you made to prepare the team for this busy time dramatically reduced the amount of drama and stress we usually experience.
- Your ability to see through the numbers helped us avoid a costly mistake.
Beyond making the recipient feel good, meaningful feedback reinforces behavior and actions that we want to see repeated. While the action occurred this time, there is no guarantee it will occur again. Reinforcement through feedback develops an instinct and naturally occurring reactions that get honed and polished over time. It allows the person to stop guessing “is this what you wanted?” How much more productivity could come if questions about appropriate actions were removed?
Yes, it will take you time and effort to give meaningful feedback. Consider the return on investment that can be gained and accelerated through feedback. Funny thing is, you will also get better at giving it, creating a virtuous cycle.