It’s the morning after returning from a long two-day business trip. You enter work, fire up the monitor, and migrate your way to your inbox where you find fifty-seven emails. Down the list of messages is one from your boss, which reads, “Great job delivering that presentation for the XYZ account, your hard work has really paid off.”
Isn’t it a lot easier to provide positive feedback than constructive criticism? Compliments tend to give the recipient a nice warm and fuzzy feeling as opposed to negative feedback, where there may be a concern about what the reaction might be. We want to practice positive feedback as often as possible. So, what are some pointers to keep in mind?
Who’s on the receiving end? Some persons need positive reinforcement more than others. For instance, the inexperienced new hire may need some additional feedback to elevate self-confidence. Different situations require different approaches. According to John Reh of About.com, “for a very shy person, thanking him in front of his workgroup is probably most appropriate,” rather than with a lot of fanfare. Start by measuring the situation and go from there.
Show sincerity. The person receiving the message will be able to discern if it’s genuine or not. Blasé feedback, even if it’s positive, can be perceived as insincere, and in that case, the message will fall by the wayside.
Show consistency. Nobody likes when favorites are played. If one person or certain persons are benefiting from positive feedback more than others, and the same work is essentially being done, others may see through these communications. Positive feedback should be balanced throughout the team.
Positive feedback goes up. Your new hire brings in a new account by the end of the year. Writing the congratulatory email should include a carbon copy (cc) to your boss so management is kept in the loop about accomplishments.
Recognize effort. Well, wait a second, the employee works here, receives a paycheck, and it’s her job anyway. Maybe, but we’re in an age when the expectation of doing more with less is the norm rather than the exception. There’s nothing wrong with telling your associate openly that her efforts are appreciated and “to keep up the good work.”
What does positive feedback do anyway?
The employee walks away with a sense of accomplishment due to recognition. This is one driver of morale. According to Jeff Wolf, Executive Coach of Wolf Management Consultants, “catching people doing something right goes a long way toward creating positive energy and motivating them to excel.” Positive messages tend to produce ripple effects. The recipient begins to feel empowered about their work and their role in the organization, “and once initiated, it trickles down to all levels,” says Wolf.
Initiating positive feedback has some relatively easy points to keep in mind, and its residual effects can have an eye-opening effect in your organization. Next time your associate opens one of your emails of recognition, it may make reading the other fifty-six in that inbox, not so bad.
Reh, J. (n.d.). How to Give Positive Feedback, from About.com, Website: http://management.about.com
Wolf, J. (n.d.). Creating a Positive Workplace, Website: http://www.wolfmotivation.com