At ABR, we work with many clients in the learning and development arena, and far too often we hear or observe that leaders at all levels neglect to offer enough positive feedback and reinforcement to their employees.
I recently wrote a blog for the Association for Talent Development (ATD) on this very topic. The truth is that many managers focus their time and energy correcting gaps in employee performance and overlook recognizing stellar performance.
There are several possible reasons for this:
- They are unsure how to offer positive feedback
- They are uncomfortable giving it
- They consider it unnecessary in a company culture where excellence is expected
- They find themselves being drawn to what needs to be fixed and overlooking what is working well
But NOT offering positive feedback can erode morale and make top performers feel their hard work is unnoticed. Some may even stop going the extra mile. Making an effort to let employees know that you DO appreciate what they’re doing (and why!) will help continue those behaviors.
Many managers confuse recognition with positive feedback. Recognition lets employees and their coworkers know they are doing a good job, while feedback informs employees about the actions they took that worked. When managers include this detail, it motivates the employee to repeat the behavior. Positive feedback is about motivating employees to keep doing the things that help a business to grow and thrive.
Here are a few pointers when it comes to positive feedback:
- Make a list of the actions and behaviors you see in employees that contribute to good performance.
- Be specific about the behaviors and actions you want to reinforce; not only about what the employee did, but why it is important.
- Relate it to business results, such as customer or client satisfaction, increased revenues, or repeat business.
- Get clear on the difference between recognition and positive feedback. Recognition lets employees and others know they are doing a good job, while feedback informs them about what they did that works.
- Don’t mix positive feedback and constructive feedback (criticism). When it is warranted, deliver genuine positive feedback, not to soften constructive feedback.