If you take a few minutes to watch this YouTube clip, you will understand why I believe that the boy featured in the video is actually sincere – and that his expression of emotion is genuine.
I have no real data to support my conclusion. For all I know the kid could be a charmingly disarming sociopath or a highly talented actor.
But I seriously doubt it because something in my gut tells me when a person is being disingenuous or trying to falsely flatter me into doing them a favor. You know what I’m talking about because each of us is hard-wired from an early age to judge others and trust our instincts about what they say. We have highly sensitive meters inside our heads that sniff out insincerity when praise or other feedback smells a little fishy.
So the lesson here is that if you give someone positive feedback, you better be sincere about it. If you don’t really mean it they will sense that lack of sincerity and your whole effort may backfire by creating resentment, distrust, and skepticism.
Feedback is a valuable, powerful tool in the hands of any manager for obtaining leverage at work– and just like a sharp knife it can either harm or heal, depending upon your heartfelt intent.
Properly implemented, feedback lies at the heart of a manager’s effectiveness, as it frees a manager to focus on more strategic matters. It’s important stuff.
And the channel you choose to communicate to your direct reports conveys the importance you place on both the topic and your relationship with them.
While you may use social media to let the world know you are engaged to be married, or you are expecting your first child, you would offend those closest to you if you did not have the common courtesy to at least pick up the telephone.
Similarly, give feedback face-to-face, or by phone if you are separated by several time zones. The topic and your relationship with your direct are that important.
Counting tumbleweeds with my sister on our family treks to El Paso could only hold our attention for so long, so we slept most of the way. Except once. I heard Dad tell my mother that the highway was so straight that if he fell asleep at the wheel he would wake up in the same lane.
I knew this wasn’t true once I saw him make the little adjustments on the wheel as he was driving. So I decided to stay awake to make sure the car didn’t end up buried in a cactus. There really wasn’t much for else for us to hit.
Like Dad’s hand on the steering wheel, managers should use feedback to make small adjustments in behavior or to encourage behavior that they would like to see more of. Many managers avoid giving feedback until a major adjustment is necessary to correct a problem.
Major adjustments require a formal discussion, and would be a lot less necessary if managers would give feedback more often.
am John Burrows, faculty member and
director of the Texas
MBA program, caffeine junkie, and jet-lag wimp (here is
a longer bio).
use this space to hash out some thoughts on management,
business, parenthood, and life. You may occasionally find me
trying to figure out Twitter