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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Forget the Compliment Sandwich: Try the 5-7 Happy Hour Rule Instead

Forget_the_Compliment_Sandwich_Try_the_5-7_Happy_Hour_Rule_InsteadWe all have hot buttons– those things that fire us up and motivate us to work hard. For me, there is no bigger driver than the need for consistent improvement. I strive to become a little bit better every day. A little more knowledgeable. Better able to share my expertise and coach our clients to more effectively turn talent into performance. I’m not terribly competitive with others, but I am on a serious personal mission to achieve excellence in my craft!

Since excellence doesn’t happen in a vacuum and significant growth only occurs in response to interaction with others, you can imagine how important it is for me to have that interaction and receive regular feedback on my efforts. So many good things come of it! Clearly it allows me the valuable perspective of seeing my efforts through my coach’s eyes; it is enormously rewarding when my growth is recognized by someone who is invested in me. But there is another, less obvious reason that I find such value in feedback. It lets me know that my coach cares enough about me to spend that kind of time on my personal development. It’s hard to feel disengaged or want to leave a job when you feel that kind of connection with someone!

You’re probably nodding along with me, thinking about the positive effects strong feedback has on you as well. That’s because this concept is universal. Across the board, in any job, people need to know how they’re doing. It can’t just be at review time or when something wonderful or horrible happens.

You’re invited to the 5-7 Happy Hour

It is human nature to be drawn to negative information more strongly than positive and without conscious effort, the negative feedback will always jump in front of the positive.

According to the Gallup organization, in order for employees to feel valued and committed, they need to receive some form of recognition or positive feedback every seven days. Their studies also show that the correct ratio to preserve employee motivation and commitment is five positive comments to every one piece of constructive criticism.

At The Center for Sales Strategy, we combine these two important understandings and coach our clients to give performance feedback in a way that is specific, frequent, and timely and we call it the “5-7 Happy Hour Rule.” Don’t be fooled by the word “happy” in this rule; not all feedback is going to be filled with sunshine and rainbows. Some feedback is going to be critical and a bit harder to hear – but it is equally important. We call it the Happy Hour Rule to help clients remember the numbers 5 and 7.

Two Types of Effective Feedback

You will notice that both types of effective feedback involve discussions of the person’s actions. Not their budget. Not their billing. Effective feedback centers entirely on an individual’s behaviors. Only by helping someone to understand their own behaviors and the connection each behavior has to performance will you be able to help them improve.

This means that regardless of which kind of feedback you are giving, it is imperative that you go in with lots of observations and examples. Your feedback journey must begin in the field, watching the individual in action, making observations about their behaviors, and taking notes that you can share.

I have found that there are a few easy steps to giving feedback that makes an impact:

Positive Feedback

Giving an individual specific information about what they are doing well and the impact it is having on others. This kind of feedback fuels an increase in those positive behaviors, and ultimately, continued success.
  • Discuss specifically what you saw that you liked. Select at least three things to talk about and share your detailed observations related to their helpful actions and behaviors.
  • Reflect on how those positive behaviors affected their meeting, client results, team dynamics, goal attainment, etc.
  • If appropriate, challenge them to strengthen these very useful behaviors or to use them more often.

Feedback for Improvement

Giving an individual specific information about opportunities to change their behaviors and improve their results.

  • Discuss specifically what you saw that might have been more effective.
  • Suggest how they might use alternative behaviors to achieve greater results.
  • Determine when they might use these alternative behaviors and then make plans to discuss how it went afterwards.

RSVP for the Happy Hour today!

I challenge you to find a way to provide feedback to someone right away. Here are a few handy tips to help you make the kind of impact you want:

  • Make time for it. Don’t assume you will organically find interesting observations to share. Make time in your schedule to observe your salespeople in action, looking especially for what they’re doing right.
  • Filter it. Don’t spend time sharing your observations of trivial things that are not related to expectations.
  • Focus on talent. Spend time coaching the behaviors that the employee can change. Don’t waste your time or theirs focused on the behaviors that require strengths the individual doesn’t have.
  • Be specific. Support your observations with details and examples. Give the person feedback using specifics, as a football coach does when showing his player the game tapes. Leave them with a clear picture in their mind to guide them next time.
  • Make it timely. Advice offered days or weeks later has a fraction of the impact, a fraction of the value. Arrange to provide your feedback within minutes or hours of making the observations. And if you’re providing some coaching beforehand, keep that as close as possible, too.
  • Be consistent. Give feedback regularly—and make the same key suggestions again and again, modifying them as appropriate until they’re no longer needed at all.

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