Realising that someone has observed you doing something and has made the effort to provide feedback can be great motivation.
Realising that someone has observed you doing something and has made the effort to provide feedback can be great motivation. iStock

Feedback might be just the encouragement you need

As we work with teams and individuals in conversation about what's important for them and what is effective in terms of communication, one of the key things that comes up constantly is recognition. The simple pat on the back or encouraging comment that shows someone has observed them doing something and has made the effort to provide feedback. It seems so simple and yet it is such a powerful motivator for people.

Until recently, I thought that it wasn't that important to me. I have always considered myself to be self-directed and very much own my actions, decisions and consequences. It seems to have been my way since I was very young. I have always seen myself as strongly independent and that has been a value that has shaped me for decades.

Given the fact that I work with my amazing wife and we are often in discussion about people and the very positive aspects of engaging them to do their best, it came as a real surprise to me recently when I was given some feedback from a person I'd worked with several years ago when we had a chance meeting in an airport.

We had crossed paths from time to time very briefly in airports and I hadn't really had the chance to have a good conversation with him about what he'd been up to since I had worked with him and a team of people setting up a new mine several years earlier. I knew that he had taken a risk and had set up his own business and was curious to know how it was going for him and how he was enjoying the challenges.

My role at the time had been as facilitator and 'culture coach' developing an aligned leadership team who had developed and committed to a clear and agreed vision, mission and value set to which we added considerable emphasis on the intra and interpersonal toolkit.

As I recalled, he had always had a presence about him, was impatient to improve things and could be very direct with people who weren't committed to the task at hand. Along with that he was always curious, willing to learn and was prepared to change provided he could understand the reasoning behind it.

As we were getting into the conversation, you could have knocked me down with a feather when he said that the work I had done with them at that time had changed his life and given him the confidence to step outside of what he knew and engage with people differently. He was incredibly appreciative and grateful. Today he has 50 people working for him and is expanding in different locations.

His feedback really impacted on me. I felt a little embarrassed. He had done the work. With that, I was absolutely delighted to hear that, for him his path was clear and he was making it work exceptionally well. The other great thing is that he is also working with his wife and they are both very happy.

You never know where you have a ripple effect nor when you might receive feedback on your impact.

Nick Bennett is a facilitator and coach at mindsaligned.com.au