What I really enjoy about being part of the Agile community is open communication and willingness my colleagues have to learning and self-improvement.
I’ve been fortunate enough to interact with some wonderfully brilliant people and a keen observation I’ve taken away is how these folks give feedback to fellow colleagues. The flip side is that when it comes to a manager/employee relationship, very few managers I’ve worked with have this unique skill. I’m quite sure there are some great books on how to give effective feedback (actually, please add some to the comments…I’d love to read some) but I’ve been on the receiving side of enough generic “great job!” comments to know what people truly find appreciative when receiving recognition.
While praise has it’s place, there is no substitute to providing concrete examples of WHY you are appreciative of someone else’s efforts. When I give feedback to team members, employees or direct superiors I make sure to provide them with specific examples of why I appreciate them. A recent example was feedback I gave to a co-worker who is not part of the team I’m working with. This person provided support to our team and also willingly participated in a couple of estimation and planning sessions because the team needed his help. I made sure to state my appreciation that, although he wasn’t part of the team, the team experienced success because of his help at key points in project.
Another side effect of being specific is that your feedback will be more honest and the receiver will be more appreciative because they will know you aren’t just blowing smoke.