How You Can Offer Praise and Positive Feedback Effectively

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Very common in leadership training programs, is the recommendation for leaders to give more praise and positive feedback.

It seems like common sense to be more positive, yet many managers and supervisors still focus on the negative.

Here are a few reasons why we don’t offer more praise:

  • We don’t get much praise ourselves.
  • We don’t think that thanking employees is needed when they’re just doing their jobs.
  • We think it will make the team reduce performance if we tell them that they’re already doing an awesome job.

When you, as a leader, deliver more positive feedback, you’ll build up the relationship with your team and when it comes time to provide corrective feedback, you’ll find that your team is more likely to accept the correction.

Most people would prefer not to receive public praise but nearly everyone enjoys receiving one on one acknowledgement.

Here are three tips for being more effective in using positive reinforcement and praising the excellence in your team:

#1 Be specific

Saying “Good job” is better than nothing but just barely. It’s more like giving cotton candy to a starving person. It’s better than nothing but by the third bag one gets a little nauseous.

In some cases, employees think that their supervisor or manager knows very little about the work they perform which makes the praise a little suspect.

Focus your praise on something specific that the individual or team has done and describe the impact of their efforts.

For example, “Thanks for working a few extra minutes today. It made a big difference to the customer. Thanks.”

#2 Acknowledge momentum and progress

While it is good to set high expectations and have high standards, some high achieving leaders will withhold their feedback until their team hits the ultimate objective. That is a missed opportunity. Your team members will appreciate hearing some positive reinforcement about their progress and momentum towards the goal.

Think of it as building a base camp so your team can increase their performance in their climb towards the summit.

#3 Avoid tacking on a negative

It might be tempting to add a negative or add the next challenge when delivering positive reinforcement. It might sound something like: “Great production numbers today — now tomorrow I need an extra ten percent.”

Not allowing your team to enjoy the praise you’re offering is almost like not delivering it in the first place. Let your team enjoy the positive feedback. You can always raise the bar or express concerns in a separate conversation.

Learning how to deliver positive feedback, more often and with greater sincerity, will build a more positive work environment, strengthen the relationships on your team and improve your operating results.

Being more positive as a front line leader will likely expand your capabilities and free up some time for you to continue to develop your leadership effectiveness.

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