Simon here –
Okay so I’m young and inexperienced and totally rely on my caretaker for the necessities of life. Being young and, of course teething, I have been known to bite things I shouldn’t - things like the couch, Pat’s favourite silk pillow, the fringe on a lovely stool that was a gift from the ETL team, and a few other things (okay, so maybe more than a few).
As a young pup, I am seeing that when I bite things that I shouldn’t, the typical response of my owner is one of frustration and frequently the word “no”, and there are never any treats involved. And yet, I still keep doing the same things and expecting a smile, perhaps a hug and a treat would be really great; after all, a treat is always welcome. Apparently as I mature I am told I will catch on to the fact that when I do what I should, I will be rewarded; I’m just way to young for that yet!
But I am wondering, why would adults keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results? I am pretty sure that even you don’t get rewards when you keep making mistakes, and you are supposed to know this at your age. I recently saw an adult yell at another adult and it seemed to me that neither one listened to the other. There were all kinds of hand gestures, some I have been told are rude and in the end both parted ways upset with each other. I actually thought someone might tell them “no” or “stop” but that didn’t happen.
I am thinking that a little feedback for these two adults might have been a good idea. If you have the role of leader or manager or, in my world, owner, I can say that telling someone when they are doing something that may hurt them or someone else is probably a good idea. I don’t always appreciate the constructive feedback, especially when I’m in the middle of a good biting tangent, but I do understand why I can’t do some of the things I do, even when I really want to.
Now, I am told that giving great constructive feedback is apparently a learned skill. And, I do know that it needs to be specific, immediate when possible and it should be done in an appropriate tone. So in my world that means a “no” or “off” said firmly right when I’m doing what I am not supposed to be doing. In the adult world, I am told the tone should still be firm, the feedback as immediate as possible, and the adult needs to clearly understand what they were doing wrong and have a discussion with their leader on how to change their behaviour to a better behaviour. There’s a saying I have heard Pat use – “What gets reinforced gets repeated”. I guess that’s why I hear “no” and “off” often. But, I am learning and once in a while when I am very well behaved I get a treat; I wonder...does this work for adults too?
Are you, as their leader, giving your team members a treat (or in your world, positive feedback) when they do something right? If not, you may want to start. If you are, you may want to do it more often. We all like to hear positive words such as great job, good work, thank you, etc. I find these words very comforting and I guess in a doggie way they make me smile.
So, to make a long story short, give constructive feedback when someone does something wrong and positive feedback when they do something right. Do so immediately when possible and clearly. Use the appropriate tone and body language and plan to follow up to reinforce good behaviours. Pat has kindly offered to share her feedback model with you if you send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and put “feedback model” in the subject line.
I am off to nap now so I can get rejuvenated to write my next article.
Signing off - Simon