SilkRoad's Blog
May 1, 2017

How to Deliver Positive Feedback (that Employees Want to Hear)

By Sharlyn Lauby

(Editors Note: Today’s post comes from Sharlyn Lauby of HR Bartender and ITM Group.)

“No news is good news” isn’t a feedback program. Every employee wants to hear feedback. That’s not a Millennial or Gen Z thing. Specifically, everyone likes getting well-thought out feedback, with an emphasis on the “well-thought out” part.

When it comes to feedback, it can be easy to fall into the trap of not giving employees positive feedback. Sure, organizations must give employees negative feedback when needed to correct a behavior. So, the assumption is made that if we don’t call an employee into the office, then they should assume they’re doing okay. (Hence, the first sentence in this post.)

But if organizations could only do one thing to improve the performance of their team, it would be to focus on giving effective positive feedback. Here are five steps that can help:

  1. Deliver timely feedback. When an employee does something great, tell them. Don’t wait weeks or months. There’s a connection between positively reinforcing behavior and encouraging it to continue. For instance, use the regularly scheduled meeting to let an employee know about their performance.
  1. Be specific. There are times when the ubiquitous “Good job!” is acceptable. However, for real impact, feedback must be specific. Telling an employee that “I really appreciate getting your TPS report two days early. It helped me finalize my end of month reports.” conveys specifics that will be remembered.
  1. Give it value. Speaking of specifics, make sure to connect positive performance to the employee or company’s goals. Employee engagement happens when a person can connect their work to the bottom-line. So, it’s valuable to tell an employee their actions “helped make the sale” or “saved the department money”.
  1. Don’t fake it. Employees want genuine, authentic feedback. They can tell when it’s forced or insincere. Find your own words to express positive feedback to employees. Remember the more you deliver positive feedback, the easier it will be.
  1. Use the right medium. Every employee has their preferred ways of being recognized. Some are okay with public displays; others, not so much. When delivering positive feedback, use a medium that the employee is comfortable with. And if you’re not sure, ask them. “Hey – I’d like to recognize the great work you did on the client proposal. Are you okay with me bringing it up at our next department meeting?”

One more thing…these feedback tips are not exclusive to managers. The same principles apply with peer-to-peer feedback. Be timely and specific. Deliver it in an authentic way using the right medium. Organizations can use this as the foundation for their internal feedback model.

Positive feedback is a powerful tool that employees want to hear. If you want to learn more about how to integrate feedback into your company culture, check out this free webinar “Creating a Company Culture that Embraces Feedback”. We discuss why feedback is a business issue and how to measure the success of a feedback program.

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