Wright Service Corp. News

Truthful, Specific and Positive Feedback Goes a Long Way

Feedback: it is a compound word. The first word is feed. I believe we as leaders, as parents, as partners, should be in the habit of giving truthful, specific, and positive feedback on a regular basis to nurture and FEED those people who look to us for criticism. Look at those first letters: T, S, P. Those of you who cook: what is TSP in a simple recipe? Yes, teaspoon. Let’s start the nourishment.

Now, be careful. It’s a troika. In other words, you cannot do just ONE of the three and be successful. This isn’t about, “excellent work,” “you are so wonderful,” or “you are always so good.” If you give truthful, specific and positive feedback on a regular basis, your family members and employees will achieve greatness.

A benefit is that you earn credits so that our associates are more willing and even eager to receive criticism. If you like this idea, you should read “Whale Done!” by Ken Blanchard. He talks about how they train the whales at Sea World in Orlando. By rewarding the whale each time a successful trick is accomplished, instead of punishing the whale when commands are not obeyed, the whale quickly learns and jumps higher and higher.

It is the same with our family members and our employees. Blanchard says you need to earn three credits. To me, everybody is different. Some need three; some need two. Some need only one TSP and then they are ready to rock. All I know is you can’t just slam into a person.

If you have never done this before, you could get shocking results. I remember the first time I spoke in Southern California. I had a group of CEOs and there was one guy, let’s call him “Gil,” who rejected this from the get go. He said, “This is great for you, but I don’t have time to go running around the building saying nice things to people all day.”

It only takes about 10 seconds. I said, “Come on, Gil. Do it as a favor for me for one day.” He said, “Uh, all right.” The next day, he called me and said, “Michael, you won’t believe this. The whole place lit up. One woman cried.” I said, “Gil, that’s not a compliment.”

Why did the woman cry? Evidently, she had worked for him for three years and he never gave her any truthful, specific, positive feedback. Now, don’t get me wrong. He had given her lots of POSITIVE feedback. He had given her the traditional “good job,” “excellent work,” “you’re always so wonderful,” plenty of that stuff. But he had not delivered TSP.

TSP is a muscle. You have got to work it out. I give TSP to the person next to me on an airplane. I know that sounds weird and sometimes the person looks at me and says, “Whaaaat?” But sometimes the person turns and gives me a business card, and/or asks for mine, and/or asks for criticism.

That happened recently. I was on a flight from Seattle to San Diego. The plane got stuck on the tarmac at SeaTac for a while. We had been in the air for about a half hour and I must’ve given the guy next to me a lot of TSPs, because he turned to me and said, “Michael, I appreciate all these nice things you’re saying to me, but do you have any criticism for me?” I said, “Do you really want to hear it?” And he said, “Yeah.” I then proceeded to give this poor guy from Idaho a half dozen things that I thought would upgrade his game. (I know. You don’t want to sit next to me on an airplane. You see me coming? Go sit in the bathroom.) And this is what the guy did at the end of it: he said, “Wait a minute, wait a minute.” He then reached in his briefcase and took out his Olympus voice recorder and he said, “Can you repeat all of that? I want to record it.” The guy got a free coaching!

Now if I can build those kind of credits on one short flight from Seattle to San Diego, imagine what you can do over a period of months and years in the workplace or over a lifetime with your families.

How do you go about giving TSP? Listening and observing! You’re blessed with two ears and two eyes in your head; use them over time. How can you give truthful, specific and positive feedback if you don’t have any repertoire? If you don’t have any itinerary? You’ve got to catch people doing things right.


Michael Allosso is a master communications expert who coaches CEOs and other high-level executives, both in dynamic presentations as well as effective day to day leadership. He has led award-winning workshops for leaders and sales teams all over the world and is a much sought after personal coach. His client base ranges from insurance producers to construction managers, doctors to bankers, actors to politicians. His experience as a professional theater and film director enables him to quickly identify strengths and weaknesses. He gives his clients practical tools to fortify their strengths and eliminate their weaknesses.

This article was published in “An Outside Perspective,” a section of the Wright Service Corp. biannual newsletter, The Wright Perspective.