Years ago I reported to Harold, a leader who proudly described his MBE approach — “management by exception.” “If you haven’t heard from me, that’s a good sign,” he explained. “That means I think you’re doing just fine. I only deal with the exceptions. I look for problems and people that need correcting. Those are what I jump on.”
Whenever I came back to my desk and had a phone message to call Harold my heart beat accelerated and jaw tightened like a vice. His approach made me and others feel criticized, often ignored, unappreciated and sometimes used. We felt like pieces of equipment or just another set of assets — human resources — wrapped in skin.
Organization consultant John Scherer called this approach “gap-zap.” When things are going well, nothing is said — leaders leave a gap. When things get off track or there’s a problem…zap!
This approach is often very damaging in personal relationships. Over a beer one evening, Harold talked about his failed first marriage. “What really drove me crazy were her constant complaints that I never told her I loved her,” he complained. “I married her didn’t I? Obviously, I loved her. Why did I need to keep saying it then?”
Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman recently studied thousands of leaders on the impact of positive and corrective feedback. In their 45 minute webinar they report:
- 37% of leaders avoid giving positive feedback
- 63% of leaders have the strongest preference for giving negative feedback — and think they’re better at developing others
- The impact of leaders with a preference for giving positive feedback on developing others and their overall leadership effectiveness ratings
- The dangers of corrective feedback and barriers to giving it
- Who benefits most from receiving positive feedback
- Four key steps to giving effective positive feedback
- Recommendations and action plans for increasing positive feedback
Click to watch The Absolutely Vital Practice of Managers Giving Positive Feedback now.
Learn how to turn MBE into LBR — “leadership by reinforcement” — and leverage positivity to increase EEE — energy, effort, and engagement.