In the past few weeks, I’ve had the chance to interview a bunch of smart, young professionals about what it takes to be a “manager of choice.” Most of us can’t choose our manager. (Neither can they.) But there is plenty of research that says that a large proportion of staff satisfaction comes from the quality of interaction with their managers.

I’ll share more about the results of these interviews later, but one thing struck me right away when I reviewed my notes. Almost all of these professionals talked about how self-critical they are and how much they value receiving positive feedback when they do something right. These are all high-performers, not sniveling low-lifes.

When I dug deeper on this issue, they talked about two reasons for the feedback: first, it feels good. Nothing wrong with that! But more importantly, it helps them learn faster. In other words, they notice faster that they’re doing something right and they can extend that proficiency and confidence to other tasks.

So I’ve started challenging some of my leadership clients with a simple dare: I dare you to try to over-do the positive feedback thing. Only two rules: the feedback must be true (people hate sucking up even more than “hard graders”) and it must be specific. “Good job” isn’t as useful as “I noticed that your summary of that point was clear and concise.  I think our client will quickly get what we’re trying to say here.”

Anyone want to take the dare?