The PR BlogPublic RelationsInternal CommunicationsSplit Sessions: Recognition, Rewards, and Feedback

Split Sessions: Recognition, Rewards, and Feedback

Keep your positive reinforcement separate.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

I use Split Sessions for recog­ni­tion, rewards, and feedback.

Positive rein­force­ment is crit­ic­al in fos­ter­ing an open and trans­par­ent intern­al com­mu­nic­a­tions culture.

This blog post high­lights the import­ance of sep­ar­at­ing recog­ni­tion from rewards from feed­back in com­mu­nic­at­ive lead­er­ship, provid­ing a frame­work with rules for effect­ive implementation.

Here we go:

The Split Sessions Framework

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The Split Sessions Framework: Recognition, Rewards, and Feedback

Recognition (praise), rewards, and feed­back are power­ful rein­force­ment tools for com­mu­nic­at­ive lead­ers. They are also fun­da­ment­al for improv­ing intern­al com­mu­nic­a­tion and fos­ter­ing a cor­por­ate cul­ture of open­ness and dialogue.

The chal­lenge for any lead­er is a) to keep such ses­sions sep­ar­ate and b) to main­tain con­stant levels over time.

Recognition (Praise)

Recognition = acknow­ledging (prais­ing) the con­tri­bu­tions of a team member.

  • Team mem­bers should be recog­nised for doing their job as per their job description.
  • Team mem­bers shouldn’t be “pat­ted on the head for doing their job”; a simple ‘Good job!’ will be suf­fi­cient in almost all circumstances.
  • Team mem­bers will almost always per­form bet­ter when receiv­ing praise (pos­it­ive rein­force­ment) reg­u­larly; all man­agers must be engaged in this activ­ity. As a rule of thumb, all employ­ees should hear a ‘Good job!’ at least once daily.
  • When giv­ing praise, nev­er hand out rewards or provide feed­back simultaneously.

Rewards

Reward = incentiv­ising a team mem­ber to pro­duce res­ults that exceed expectations.

  • Team mem­bers should be rewar­ded for pro­du­cing res­ults above what is expected.
  • Be mind­ful when hand­ing out rewards; hand­ing out rewards for doing jobs that team mem­bers are already paid to carry out can cre­ate a cul­ture of con­fu­sion or worse — entitlement.
  • Rewards must be just, rel­ev­ant, and sys­tem­at­ised; hand­ing out dif­fer­ent types of rewards arbit­rar­ily will likely cre­ate con­flict and encour­age destruct­ive intern­al behaviours.
  • When hand­ing out rewards, nev­er give praise or provide feed­back simultaneously

Feedback

Feedback = let­ting a team mem­ber know if the work has the inten­ded effect.

  • Team mem­bers should ideally get feed­back with­in the revi­sion win­dow; i.e. they must be giv­en a chance to error-cor­rect imme­di­ately for the feed­back to have the inten­ded effect.
  • If you miss the revi­sion win­dow, feed­back should be giv­en in the format of dis­cuss­ing and revis­ing goals and processes.
  • Feedback is feed­back, no mat­ter if it’s “pos­it­ive” or “neg­at­ive”. Provide both in a bal­anced, con­struct­ive, and unemo­tion­al manner.
  • When provid­ing feed­back, nev­er give praise or hand out rewards simultaneously.

The Split Sessions Framework under­scores the import­ance of sep­ar­at­ing praise, rewards, and feed­back in com­mu­nic­at­ive leadership. 

Learn more: Split Sessions: Recognition, Rewards, and Feedback

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Communicative Leadership is Critical

In lead­er­ship, the way mes­sages are con­veyed is just as import­ant as the mes­sages themselves. 

Leaders’ com­mu­nic­a­tion styles, par­tic­u­larly pre­cise­ness, are cru­cial for effect­ive know­ledge shar­ing, per­ceived lead­er per­form­ance, and sub­or­din­ate sat­is­fac­tion.”
Source: Journal of Business and Psychology 1Vries, R., Bakker-Pieper, A., & Oostenveld, W. (2009). Leadership = Communication? The Relations of Leaders’ Communication Styles with Leadership Styles, Knowledge Sharing and Leadership … Continue read­ing

Effective com­mu­nic­a­tion is a corner­stone of suc­cess in lead­er­ship and man­age­ment, par­tic­u­larly in how lead­ers deliv­er praise, rewards, and feedback. 

A well-thought-through approach enhances com­mu­nic­a­tion clar­ity and builds trust and respect with­in the team. As a lead­er, your choice and deliv­ery of words are instru­ment­al in shap­ing your team’s cul­ture and per­form­ance. Leaders can foster a more pos­it­ive and pro­duct­ive work envir­on­ment through clar­ity and consistency. 

Formative feed­back should be non-eval­u­at­ive, sup­port­ive, timely, and spe­cif­ic to improve learn­ing and should be tailored to indi­vidu­al learner char­ac­ter­ist­ics and task aspects.”
Source: Review of Educational Research 2Shute, V. (2008). Focus on Formative Feedback. Review of Educational Research, 78, 153 – 189. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​3​1​0​2​/​0​0​3​4​6​5​4​3​0​7​3​1​3​795

Avoiding Cultural Uncertainty

Research sup­ports the idea that lead­ers should give feed­back and provide praise on sep­ar­ate occa­sions. According to research by O.C. Tanner, high­lighted in a SmartBrief art­icle, 42% of employ­ees who received recog­ni­tion from their lead­ers also received a mes­sage of “here’s how you can do bet­ter” in the same com­mu­nic­a­tion. 3Miller, J. V. (2018, October 9). Here’s why you need to sep­ar­ate praise from feed­back. SmartBrief. https://​corp​.smart​brief​.com/​o​r​i​g​i​n​a​l​/​2​0​1​8​/​1​0​/​h​e​r​e​s​-​w​h​y​-​y​o​u​-​n​e​e​d​-​s​e​p​a​r​a​t​e​-​p​r​a​i​s​e​-​f​e​e​d​b​ack

Combining recog­ni­tion, rewards, and feed­back tends to send mixed mes­sages, leav­ing employ­ees uncer­tain about cul­tur­al con­duct. This sug­gests that sep­ar­at­ing recog­ni­tion from rewards and feed­back is cru­cial in ensur­ing both are received as inten­ded, without under­min­ing the effect­ive­ness of either.

When praise, rewards, and feed­back are inter­twined, it dilutes the impact of both. Employees may begin to ques­tion the sin­cer­ity of the praise or feel that every com­pli­ment has a catch.


Please sup­port my PR blog by shar­ing it with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

PR Resource: Communicative Leadership

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Doctor Spin’s PR School: Communicative Leadership

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PR Resource: Checklist for Communicative Leadership

The single biggest prob­lem in com­mu­nic­a­tion is the illu­sion that it has taken place.”
— George Bernard Shaw

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The Checklist for Communicative Leadership

How can you ensure your lead­er­ship is express­ive and pre­cise in prac­tic­al situations? 

As a rule of thumb:

  • It’s gen­er­ally bet­ter to “over-com­mu­nic­ate” (tol­er­able extra effort) than “under-com­mu­nic­ate” (sub­stan­tial extra risk).

Make sure to pass these com­mu­nic­at­ive lead­er­ship checks:

  • This is what we are doing.
    Is the explan­a­tion clear? Do you have ques­tions? Can you repeat the inform­a­tion back to me?
  • This is why we are doing it.
    Is the explan­a­tion clear? Do you have ques­tions? Can you repeat the inform­a­tion back to me?
  • This is who will be doing it.
    Is the explan­a­tion clear? Do you have ques­tions? Can you repeat the inform­a­tion back to me?
  • This is how we are doing it.
    Is the explan­a­tion clear? Do you have ques­tions? Can you repeat the inform­a­tion back to me?
  • This is when we are doing it.
    Is the explan­a­tion clear? Do you have ques­tions? Can you repeat the inform­a­tion back to me?
  • This is where we are doing it.
    Is the explan­a­tion clear? Do you have ques­tions? Can you repeat the inform­a­tion back to me?
  • This is for whom we are doing it.
    Is the explan­a­tion clear? Do you have ques­tions? Can you repeat the inform­a­tion back to me?

Being a great lead­er can be a daunt­ing task. However, with effort (and atten­tion to detail), all lead­ers can prac­tice express­ive and pre­cise communication.

Expressive and pre­cise com­mu­nic­a­tion styles have a stronger link to lead­er out­comes than per­son­al­ity traits extra­ver­sion and con­scien­tious­ness.”
Source: Human Performance 4Bakker-Pieper, A., & Vries, R. (2013). The Incremental Validity of Communication Styles Over Personality Traits for Leader Outcomes. Human Performance, 26, 1 – … Continue read­ing

Learn more: The Checklist for Communicative Leadership

💡 Subscribe and get a free ebook on how to get bet­ter PR ideas.

ANNOTATIONS
ANNOTATIONS
1 Vries, R., Bakker-Pieper, A., & Oostenveld, W. (2009). Leadership = Communication? The Relations of Leaders’ Communication Styles with Leadership Styles, Knowledge Sharing and Leadership Outcomes. Journal of Business and Psychology, 25, 367 – 380. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-009‑9140‑2
2 Shute, V. (2008). Focus on Formative Feedback. Review of Educational Research, 78, 153 – 189. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​3​1​0​2​/​0​0​3​4​6​5​4​3​0​7​3​1​3​795
3 Miller, J. V. (2018, October 9). Here’s why you need to sep­ar­ate praise from feed­back. SmartBrief. https://​corp​.smart​brief​.com/​o​r​i​g​i​n​a​l​/​2​0​1​8​/​1​0​/​h​e​r​e​s​-​w​h​y​-​y​o​u​-​n​e​e​d​-​s​e​p​a​r​a​t​e​-​p​r​a​i​s​e​-​f​e​e​d​b​ack
4 Bakker-Pieper, A., & Vries, R. (2013). The Incremental Validity of Communication Styles Over Personality Traits for Leader Outcomes. Human Performance, 26, 1 – 19. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​8​0​/​0​8​9​5​9​2​8​5​.​2​0​1​2​.​7​3​6​900
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwerhttps://doctorspin.net/
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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