Lluís Matamala Consultant of Gestión del Cambio Empresarial

Every executive knows or should know the importance of recognition and its immediate effect on people’s motivation.

To make the team grow, it is necessary to reinforce what they do well, giving positive recognition, but it is also necessary to know how to give negative recognition when there are aspects that need to be improved.

A good leader must know how to manage both types but, in this article, we are going to dedicate some lines to how to give a negative recognition properly.

A badly managed negative observation, besides not solving the problem, can generate a bad interpretation and/or a defence attitude.

It is good not to lose sight of these ten rules:

Don’t give negative recognition to a “loser”

If you know that a person is going through difficult personal moments, avoid giving the person a negative recognition, evaluate the situation to find the best moment, otherwise the person will think that you do not empathize and that you are inconsiderate.

Do not do it in front of other people

We do not feel comfortable when we witness a superior correcting someone on his team in front of other people, potentially hurting and ridiculing hi instead of going deeper into the problem and its possible solution.

Doing so immediately after the problem is observed

Unless we are facing a “loser”, it is good to do it immediately, otherwise it may seem that you have been storing up topics for a long time, and it may give the impression that it is an attack on the person rather than on the problem, causing a defensive attitude and losing the ability to improve, which is the main objective.

Be specific about what happened

Focus on concrete facts rather than generalist interpretations:

“Your presentations are not understandable to clients…”

“At the presentation this morning you said that…”

In the first sentence you are not observing and criticizing a specific fact, the interlocutor will feel attacked in his way of acting before the client, the person will surely try to justify the person self and it will be difficult to achieve the specific improvement.

Go to the problem, never to the person

When we give an opinion about the person, we are talking about how they are, not how they act professionally and may feel judged and attacked. However, if we give feedback on a particular behaviour, the person may feel bad about the fact, but will not perceive it as a personal attack.

Example: “You’re always late…” / “You were 10 minutes late for this morning meeting…”

Explain the consequences

The objective of giving negative recognition is to avoid the repetition of a certain behaviour and at the same time generate an improvement. The consequences of this theoretically incorrect behaviour must be argued because if the relevant explanations are not given, the objective will not be achieved for future occasions.

Don’t let it happen again

Agree on an improvement plan with the person involved, inform them of how they will be helped and how they will be followed up.

Do not bring up past problems

If you want to correct a specific fact, you should not take advantage of it and dig into past problems, they are there and you should not resort to them because they deform and divert attention from the current situation.

Use your own information

Never make a correction towards another person based on what is said or can be intuited, always focus on what you have seen and verified by yourself, otherwise a climate of distrust in the people of the organization is favoured.

Once spoken, do not remember it anymore

Do not remember or bring up the subject again, except if it comes up again.

I hope that these 10 golden rules are useful to give the negative recognitions, necessary in the management of people, but I also wish that the positive recognitions were always present in your way of leading teams.

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