Leadership training is often focused on providing constructive feedback, but we often forget that actionable positive feedback is just as important.
It may be common to dwell on the negative and overlook the positive, but that’s to everyone’s detriment. While it’s necessary to provide some constructive criticism to help employees perform at their best, too much can demoralize and create a negative spiral of disengagement. Positive feedback reminds people of their value, what they should be doing more of, and how to utilize their strengths for optimal performance. Providing regular positive feedback is crucial for employee engagement but many people aren’t sure how to offer it without being vague or coming across as insincere.
Here are six tips to help you inspire and motivate employees with actionable positive feedback.
1. Make it immediate and recurrent.
Strive to catch team members in the act of doing something good. For feedback to be productive and meaningful, it must be immediate. If you want people to keep up the excellent work, praise them as soon as they complete the positive action and regularly commend them when they repeat it. Don’t wait until the performance review to compliment your employees on the amazing things they did months before.
2. Be specific.
When it comes to praising people for their achievements, “good job” doesn’t cut it. Instead, experts recommend using the team member’s name and describing the specific actions they took to achieve the positive outcome. By detailing what you appreciate about their efforts, it lets them know precisely what they need to do in the future to keep delivering top-notch results.
3. Don’t mix positives and negatives.
The “sandwich” approach – starting and ending with positives and sticking a negative comment in the middle – is more harmful than helpful. It creates confusion and often comes across as a contrived effort to soften the blow. If you want to praise an employee’s success on a certain project, focus on the accomplishment rather than where they may have fallen short. If you need to discuss room for improvement, schedule a separate time to provide constructive feedback.
4. Go public with your praise.
There’s no reason to use discretion when offering up positive feedback. Go ahead and recognize exceptional achievements during the team meeting. Not only will people benefit from the immediate praise, they will be rewarded with plenty of congratulatory comments from their colleagues too. Providing consistent, visible recognition for employees can be easy and inexpensive. Create a physical wall of fame in the break room or a virtual one online, send company-wide congratulatory emails, or host a monthly luncheon to honor top performers.
5. Weave it into everyday operations.
Let your team members know about the culture of positive feedback you want to create. Enlighten them on the importance and value of encouraging reinforcement. And then make the positive feedback a routine occurrence.
6. Consider accomplishments in the context of the big picture.
Sharing positive feedback benefits not only the employee, it supports the efforts of the entire organization. Everybody wins. When employees follow the right course of action, it inevitably improves productivity and boosts company-wide performance, creating dividends for everyone in the long run.
Whether they’re working exceptionally well with others, meeting challenging deadlines, or delighting customers, employees thrive when they’re given actionable positive feedback. It sets the stage for growth, nurtures engagement, and creates a more harmonious company culture.
A positive culture is among the most powerful weapons in any organization’s arsenal. For over 25 years, The HR Team has been helping companies work better together to reach their full potential. Please contact us to learn more.
About The HR Team: Founded in 1996, The HR Team is a Maryland-based human resources outsourcing firm committed to developing strategic, customized solutions that respond to the unique needs and cultures of organizations of all types and sizes. Available as a one-source alternative to an in-house HR department or on an à la carte project basis, the company’s flexible service models address the full spectrum of HR needs that many organizations struggle to address. The HR Team helps clients achieve their highest level of success by providing value-driven human resources services that leave them time to focus on what they do best: directing business growth and profitability. Headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, the firm serves all of Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia. To learn more about The HR Team, call 410.381.9700 or visit https://www.thehrteam.com/.