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Only when leaders intimately understand each of the people they lead can they personalize their feedback style according to what works best for each. People don’t like to be generalized. Only personalized feedback gives them what they need in order to take appropriate action.

faces facingTo offer personalized feedback requires Leadership Intimacy—an intimate understanding of what each employee desires as motivation.

Here I would like to share research that supports our claim. A study by Joshua Freedman and Carina Fiedeldey-Van Dijk, Ph.D, What Motivates Employees to be More Productive, determined that employees work more productively when they receive the kind of feedback they prefer. Different strokes, in other words, for different folks.

People who were the least productive are looking for recognition, while more productive people also welcome better time management.

Employees in the middle range of productivity respond positively to a variety of feedback styles, most having to do with interpersonal factors. All employees, the study found, respond to expressions of appreciation.

Individualization is essential which means employees and managers need an increased awareness of “what makes people tick.” Perhaps most importantly this data reinforces the “emotional intelligence truism” that relationships drive business success.

Or as we say, relationships always trump skill. Sadly the researchers also found that most employers still attempt to motivate their employees with one-size-fits-all feedback. It’s clear why that doesn’t work.

Fit Your Feedback

What can we learn from this? Recognize early wins with low performers and coach them to close gaps.

How many times this week did you provide reinforcing feedback to your low, middle, and top performers? Could you do more? How about making a commitment to provide every person on your team at least one “Shout out” this week?

I invite you to read The Magnetic Power of Leadership Intimacy. And to take your feedback skills even further, consider embarking on our CoachQuest Leader-as-Coach program, where Leadership Intimacy gives your leaders and your organization one powerful competitive advantage.


Helanie Scott
Helanie Scott
Helanie (pronounced yeh-LAH-nee) Scott, CEO and founder of Align4Profit in Dallas, Texas, has driven stunning leadership and cultural transformations for an impressive list of organizations. She has mastered the ability to connect with her audiences in the boardroom, classroom, on stage, or in one-on-one coaching sessions. Helanie’s Align4Profit clients rave at the way her engaging programs freshen outdated mindsets and deliver results-oriented, aligned action.