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Friday, October 21, 2011

Lean Quote: Praise the Behavior Not the Person

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"Only praise behavior that you want to be repeated. Never use false praise." — Coach Dean Smith

All of us like to receive a pat on the back every once in a while for our efforts because it feels good and it lets us know that our efforts are being appreciated. In many places, however, the trend is to find fault and lay blame on our negative characteristics rather than our positive ones. This can lead to underlying resentment, bitterness, and low morale.

Feedback is not about insulting someone's behavior; it's about telling him or her how to be better. For example, you would never say to a child, "You are a mistake." Instead you would say, "You made a mistake."

Do your best to avoid hurting anyone's feelings. Use a softened start-up followed by a gentle suggestion. For example you could say, "I really like the way to talk to your supervisor, you would get a better response from your team members if you spoke to them in the same way.

Identify the negative behavior, explain how it hurts the company, and provide a concrete description of your desired behavior. Make your praise specific to the behavior. Avoid making any generalities about the praise you are giving. Before you praise someone, isolate the behavior that you are praising them for and praise that behavior along with the person. This will make the praise much more valuable to them and it will reinforce that specific behavior.

Learning how to give feedback and criticism in a way that the person you are talking to will take it in and learn from it may be a leader’s greatest tool for building an effective team. As leaders, it is important to let people know the things that they do right and encourage them to repeat behaviors that produce good results.

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