| Positive Feedback: What Employees Want and Need
Have you recently told an employee what a great job he/she is doing? Positive feedback has long been recognized as a critical element in high-performing workplaces. Yet, many managers don't feel comfortable giving praise, saying that it takes too much time, feels insincere or "too soft", or just gets in the way of day-to-day activities. On the contrary, few actions will do more to build trust and boost morale than ongoing, sincere feedback of a positive nature.
Humans have an innate need to seek feedback on how we are doing. Without feedback, we tend to make up information--almost always negative--to fill the void. Giving positive feedback prevents destructive "information gaps," and strengthens relationships between employees and their supervisors. It also leads to improved work quality, increased accountability and a higher-performing work environment.
Know when and how to compliment
Positive feedback starts with knowing when and how to praise employees. Specifically, it involves recognizing and praising employees for specific behaviors and accomplishments that go beyond the everyday expectations of their jobs.
For example, praise employees when they:
To maximize the effect, make your positive impact:
Never give positive feedback unless you mean it. Insincere positive feedback will just make recipients wonder what your real agenda is or what you are trying to hide. And the next time you give legitimate praise it will have far less impact.
Positive feedback with Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y
The time has come to jettison the "sandwich" technique, whereby you say something positive, sneak in something you want the employee to do differently, and then finish with a positive. For years, this approach was used to soften the impact of critical feedback, and it worked reasonably well with Baby Boomer and Traditionalist workers.
Gen-Xers, however, quickly see through this strategy and openly question the hidden agenda behind the positive feedback. And the youngest generation, the Millennials (Gen-Y), are so accustomed to direct (and often brutal) feedback that they see no point in trying to sneak positive feedback into a constructive feedback conversation.
So keep your positive feedback positive, focus on specific events and behaviors that exceed your expectations, and let employees know how much you appreciate their efforts. You'll improve morale and enhance trust while encouraging higher levels of performance. And today's stressed-out employees will appreciate your efforts to meet their workplace needs.
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