This past weekend, we held our annual business owner’s retreat in Victoria, BC. Great people, weather, venue, and a fantastic time had by all. We brought in a truly unique individual, Michael Allosso from out east who, by the end of Saturday, left everyone in awe, and with a mission to strategically approach relationships and interactions with others with the intent of establishing true connections through awareness.

I invited Michael to lead our group this weekend because I worked with him in Detroit in the spring. He is probably the most impactful person I have seen at getting his message across with every single individual he comes into contact with, and I have worked with a lot of credible and talented individuals. When I worked with him in Detroit he taught us “TSP.” When you give feedback, you must be 1. Truthful, 2. Specific, and 3. Positive.

Truthful must be sincere. I was golfing with a President of a company and one of his direct reports. Every time this President hit the ball, his side kick would say “Great shot.” This President probably only hit 3 great shots over the whole course. People know when they have achieved mediocre to bad results and you complimenting them doesn’t help. So be honest, be sincere, and be truthful with your feedback.

Positive should go without saying, but it doesn’t. We are often very quick to point out the negative or give mixed messages. “Gee, that was a really bad shot, but it wasn’t as bad as your last one” is really not all that helpful, motivating or positive by any stretch of the imagination. How can that feedback be useful in understanding what was done right that made the shot better than the last?

Specific is where the magic is and of course this makes it the most difficult. Since meeting Michael six months ago I am constantly challenging myself to be specific. I used to say, “Angie, great job”, or “Peter, it’s great having you around.” It sounds positive but Angie and Peter have no idea if it’s sincere because it’s not specific. And, for a true ‘manacoach’ (exceptional manager) all feedback is a coaching opportunity. If the feedback is not specific, how does the employee know what he did right and what should be repeated? For an employee who takes pride in his work, non-specific feedback can be both useless and an insult. A valued, high-performing employee may actually leave your company because you are not taking the time to provide specific feedback required for their development and growth. If you don’t know what made his or her work good, get some advice. What do you do when your friend hits a golf ball 30 feet and she was supposed to hit it 200 yards? The answer lies in being specific and strategically providing feedback. I might say, “that is the most difficult club to use in the field, and although the results didn’t show it, you kept your arm straight, and your tempo was amazing.

When a team member brings you a rough draft of a report and in its entirety it’s unacceptable, sure, go through your concerns and share what needs to be tightened up. But “specifically” what’s good about it? Did the person turn it around quickly in order to make a deadline? Is the section on identifying risks thorough? Is it formatted exceptionally well? It’s just as important, if not more important, to reinforce the positive as it is to identify the areas for improvement.

Being specific is difficult and takes practice. This weekend, because I had worked with Michael before, instead of watching him I watched the faces of participants as he found greatness in something ‘specific’ about each one of their presentation skills. I wish I had taken pictures of their faces. They were faces of engagement, of smiles, of true interest, and they were faces of deep appreciation in feeling valued as individuals for something uniquely specific to them.

The true manacoach knows that although TSP takes time and effort, it is incredibly valuable and necessary. All feedback is a coaching opportunity that talented employees crave. Click To Tweet Being truthful, specific, and positive is nothing short of magic in making deep connections with your team members and helping them achieve their potential.

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