How to Give Positive Feedback

In an excellent article ‘Use These Two Confidence Boosters To Improve Employee Performance’ Mark Murphy talks about two ways leaders can improve employee confidence – setting goals and giving positive feedback

Now, I could bore for England on the topic of setting goals / objectives (and frequently do – here’s the proof) so let’s focus on giving positive feedback

Giving Positive Feedback

Mark makes the excellent point that ‘the trick to giving positive feedback is specificity’. Hurrah for that. I would also add a couple of extra tips to make positive feedback really work

  1. Put in the preparation

I know managers who spend literally hours preparing to give criticism. Hours. I also know managers to spend 10 minutes (if at all) preparing to give positive feedback. A passing comment on the lines of ‘nice job’ does not constitute effective praise. I’d argue that the more effective we are at monitoring performance the easier we’ll find it to give specific positive feedback because we’ll have the evidence / examples we need to make that feedback specific. You can read a whole lot more about monitoring performance HERE

  1. Focus on the results

One way to give real power to positive feedback is to focus on results. Here we are talking specifically not just about what the employee did that we particularly liked or appreciated (though that’s not bad thing) but on the actual results that were achieved. So rather than ‘I really appreciated you submitting that report before the deadline’ you might say ‘I really appreciated you submitting that report before the deadline as it enabled me provide the client with the information they needed earlier than they anticipated. The client said they were impressed by our level of customer service’

  1. Let the positive feedback stand alone

It can be tempting to use the opportunity of giving positive feedback to also either add in a bit of criticism (that was a great report, it’s a shame your presentations aren’t as good) or to tack onto the praise a piece of delegation (that was a great report, I’m wondering if you could take on training the rest of the team in report writing). Please don’t. If you need to give some criticism or talk about delegation do it later. Let the positive feedback stand alone – it will be much more effective in boosting confidence, motivation and performance


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