Have you ever heard anyone complain about getting too much positive feedback? Probably not. Have you ever heard anyone complain about not getting enough? Probably. It’s a common complaint in most companies. Employees don’t feel like they get enough positive feedback. One could argue employees aren’t getting enough constructive feedback either, and in many cases I would agree, but for this discussion we are putting a spotlight on positive feedback.
The power of positive feedback is often underestimated. Some people thrive on positive feedback and it’s a big motivator for them, which helps with employee retention. At a more practical level, positive feedback, when provided with context, reinforces the work or behavior the company wants to see repeated. It’s a way of identifying good, great or exceptional work and what people are doing right and should continue doing.
The power of positive feedback also extends beyond the boss-employee relationship. There is opportunity to provide positive feedback to peers, employees in other chains of command, and even bosses. Who wouldn’t want to hear some positive feedback? I have worked with many business owners and c-suite executives that are yearning for positive feedback so they know what the employees appreciate about them, what they did or what they are doing.
Positive feedback adds a positive vibe not only to the person receiving it, but to the person providing it, as well. It feels good not only to receive positive feedback, but to give it, too. Imagine if everyone in an organization took some time every day to provide positive feedback to at least one other person. That could influence not only the morale and culture of the organization, but the productivity, too, as people are more motivated and know how to do a good job!
Here is a guide for providing effective positive feedback.
- Be specific about the feedback. “Good job” is not good enough. Be clear about what, specifically, was done well.
- Provide it as soon as possible.
- Consider the audience and circumstances. Some people prefer accolades given in private, others like to have an audience. Under some circumstances providing feedback in front of others provides an example and reinforcement for good work.
- Be aware of the needs of the individual. Some people need more positive feedback than others for motivation.
- Be authentic about the feedback.
- Don’t undermine the positive feedback by adding a “but…”.
Providing positive feedback is often not top-of-mind or considered a priority with everything else that needs to get done, which is why it falls by the wayside. Unfortunately, that leads to many missed opportunities. With a little thought and very little planning, it can become a great leadership tool and the results can be significant for morale and productivity.
Tip – Set aside (and schedule) 10 minutes a day or week to think about what someone – anyone – did particularly well that day or week and take a moment to give them the feedback. It doesn’t have to be someone in your organization. It can be a peer or even a boss. Imagine the impact to the morale and culture of an organization where everyone took the time to think about and provide authentic positive feedback on a regular basis.
Now, more than ever, we could all use some positive vibes and the need for positive feedback is even greater. The remote workforce has lead to fewer opportunities to provide positive feedback which, pre-pandemic, often happened right after a meeting or in a hallway. And as we rush from call to call, the feedback gets forgotten. The younger and newer employees are at an even greater disadvantage as they are losing the opportunities to observe workplace behaviors and nuances that help them learn.
Unsolicited positive feedback is not only an inexpensive way of motivating employees, but reinforces good work and behavior, and can positively influence a culture in significant ways.