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Henley Leadership Group Blog

Want To Change Your Team For The Better? Try This


You are more powerful than you know. Your appreciation and feedback can change your team for the better. 

People often have a reasonable idea of who they are and how they show up, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. However, depending on how much appreciation and feedback they’ve been exposed to, this is often an incomplete picture. 

To have a whole and complete picture of who and how they are, your team members need feedback about what you see and hear from them at work. This helps them to grow, learn, and evolve into a sturdier version of themselves. 

Appreciation and feedback are the two ways we help others expand and grow a larger sense of self. It’s how you say, “I see you and here’s what I’m seeing.” Specifically:

Appreciation requires an uncommon kind of thoughtfulness. It requires entering another’s world, experiencing it and then letting that person know what you’ve seen. It’s about sharing the difference that a person’s unique contribution has had on you. We call it “voicing the good.” 

Feedback is any information you share about another person’s performance, skills, or ability to work within a team. Feedback happens when you offer your perspective to a colleague or teammate about something they may not be aware of or are doing that isn’t working. For example, communicating to a team member that you’ve noticed them interrupt someone repeatedly in team meetings — this may be news to them!

What it Means to Expand Someone’s Sense of Self

A few weeks ago, I missed a two-day team retreat because I was out sick. I was disappointed that I couldn’t be with the team and felt some sadness about missing a team retreat. 

Early in the morning on the second day of the retreat, one of my team members called me on her drive in to the meeting. She told me she’d missed me in the conversations the previous day. I have to admit, it felt good to be missed. 

Then she told me that what she most appreciates about what I bring to conversations is a “grounded creativity.” She explained that I’m a creative person, and yet, I don’t create chaos, which can often accompany the messy process of creativity. She said she feels steadied by my structure and ways of sharing what’s going on in my mind creatively. 

This was all news to me. Not that I’m a creative person — I’ve known that all my life. But that my creativity is grounded, and others feel steadied by me. I was moved by her acknowledgment of a strength I have that I’ve not had described to me. It expanded my sense of self. I was grateful she’d taken the time to call me. 

This is what appreciation and feedback can do for your team. You can help them see themselves more fully. 

Are you giving enough feedback and appreciation to your team members? 

Make appreciation a habit. Focus for a few minutes every day on what you appreciate about several of your team members. Or try to build it into your weekly routine, perhaps by spending the last hour of your week writing a personal thank-you note or just jotting down what you appreciated about people from the week. Or, consider starting team meetings with brief appreciations for team members. 

Give feedback immediately. Don’t wait for the annual performance review. It’s a disservice to the person if they’re doing something that’s not working for them and you wait until review time comes around to let them know about it and give them the opportunity to make changes. Nothing in the annual review should be a surprise to your team; they should have already heard this from you. Giving feedback helps people to get clearer about what to do to improve and where to focus their efforts. This is an act of generosity. And sure, giving feedback may be uncomfortable for you. Do it anyway. 

Appreciation and feedback are tools for transformation. Get more comfortable with them by practicing using  in your day-to-day. You’ll be glad you did.

Previously published on Forbes