W- asked me the other day, "Does everything need to be positive with you?" I thought about it for a bit, and I realized that yes, I firmly believe in the power of focusing on what's positive and what's actionable in order to grow. (So much so that I translate what other people tell me!) I think that focusing on the positive helps you build people up instead of tearing them down. I love Sam Decker's description of one of Bazaarvoice's workplace practices:
Quarterly performance feedback (our "3/3/1" process), including "upward" feedback for the managers from their staff - to help all of our employees rapidly grow and reduce the anxiety in our organization (everyone always knows where they stand); I have been told by many of our employees and managers that they have learned more at Bazaarvoice than anywhere else they have worked. Our feedback is balanced (the 3/3/1 is a simple email form to document the 3 things you did well that quarter, the 3 things you could have done better, and the 1 initiative you are going to focus on as a result). The upward feedback from staff illuminates blind-spots on our management team, many of which have never been discussed with them in previous companies because the feedback process was too poor to generate intensely constructive dialogue.
3/3/1. The three things you did well, the three things you could have done better, and the one initiative that you're going to focus on as a result. Relentless improvement that gives you energy and opportunities to celebrate what you're doing well and envision where you want to go. Good stuff.