The "STS Formula" for giving positive feedback and appreciation


It was very nice to see TalentGrow's annual gift featured in this guest post on by our friend and colleague Jeremy Epstein, VP of Marketing and Social Navigator at Sprinklr. It just shows that when you give thoughtful, meaningful, authentic gifts, it really resonates with the people who receive them.

The same is true with positive recognition and appreciation; in my opinion, it is the most influential tool in any leader's toolkit. When you say "thank you" or "job well-done" to a staff member, peer, supervisor, client, associate or friend, it has a lasting positive effect, often with a multiplier effect rippling off of it.

Let's face it: NO ONE has ever felt TOO appreciated. Period.

Halelly's "STS Formula" for positive feedback and appreciation

Here's the simple formula that is guaranteed to work to make people feel truly appreciated:

  1. Be Specific. Describe in as much detail as possible WHAT you appreciated and WHY.While "Thank you" and "Good job" are way better than nothing, they don't really describe the behavior you appreciated and want to recognize. Here's a little secret: what gets appreciated, gets repeated. Don't you want to let the person know what behavior to repeat?
  2. Be Timely. Articulate your appreciation (whether orally or in writing) as closely to the occurrence of the appreciated behavior as possible. Otherwise, not only will the person possibly forget what they did, but they may not feel your appreciation is as authentic or heart-felt as it should be. I mean, "thank you so much for helping me that time two months ago" just doesn't have as much of a positive impact as "thanks for your help yesterday" does.
  3. Be sincere. People can read (and smell) 'fake' from a mile away. Humans are astute observers of nuanced body language signals that convey incongruence. And, when faced with a mismatch between the words and the way they were conveyed, we almost always trust the visual and vocal cues as the 'true message'. If you're giving appreciation as a 'management technique' or because you 'have to', not because you're truly appreciative, the receiver will pick this up and your positive feedback will have the OPPOSITE effect - it will create distrust and disgruntlement. The bottom line: if you can't find a way to sincerely feel thankful, it's best you don't give thanks. 

Take the "STS Challenge"

In the next week, look for opportunities to 'catch' people doing things right, and for things you can appreciate about them, and provide Specific, Timely, and Sincere appreciation. It can be as simple as a spoken appreciation face-to-face or by phone, a thank you card, or a symbolic gift. Then, come back and report about your experience and reactions in the comments below. I can't wait to hear about it!

Image: my modification of a photo by Flickr Creative Commons user Claudio.Ar

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