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Positive Feedback: The Breakfast Of Champions!

Let Your Employees Know How They’re Doing: It Is A Key To Their Success.

By Steve Schumacher

Do you remember the time your teacher praised you in front of other students?

Do you remember clearly the positive feedback from your boss over the past five years?

Do you remember the positive things your friends and family have said about you?

If you do, you are in the minority. Most of us don’t remember the positive things that are said about us or to us. We remember much more clearly the negative feedback we have received and the negative things that have happened to us.

Your employees are the same, they will remember the criticism you give them and forget the positive feedback you give them.

We all know that positive feedback is one of the tools managers have to help motivate their employees, yet when I talk to employees at all levels, the thing I hear most often is “I don’t get enough feedback from my boss, and when I do it’s negative.”

If I interviewed your employees and asked them about how you give feedback and the nature of it, what would they say?

If you want your employees to say that you give meaningful positive feedback on a regular basis, do the following:

When you see it, say it.
When someone does something well, you need to let them know right away. Don’t store it up for later. If you wait, you will forget the specifics and the employee will likely forget what happened. Hold yourself accountable for catching people doing things right every day.

You certainly let them know right away if they make a mistake, do the same with praise.

Be specific.
When giving positive feedback, tell the person EXACTLY what they did well. Don’t use generalizations like “good attitude,” “team player,” or “dedicated worker.”

Those types of terms cause misunderstanding and confusion as to what the person did that you liked. Paint a picture for the person of what you saw them do or heard them say.

Tell them the impact of what they did.

This step involves telling the person the result of what they did. It can be something that will get them a bonus, improve department performance, impact the bottom line, or help you do your job better.

Don’t overload them with how their behavior affected every part of the company. Make it appropriate to them and the situation.

Give more positives than negatives.
Research says that for positive feedback to be heard and remembered, it must be done much more frequently than negative feedback. I’ve met many managers who tell me they give a lot of feedback but their employees complain that they get little or none.

Most often that’s because managers don’t give enough positives in relation to the negatives. A 4-1 ratio of positives to negatives is what will get employees to hear the positives.

Focus on face-to-face feedback.
So often, I see managers who constantly think that they have to give people “things” to recognize their performance. The reality is that most of us just want our boss to look us in the eye and give us positive feedback versus some object with a company logo on it that everyone else has already.

We all like to be given a reward for something we did, but don’t get bogged down with doing that in place of the face-to-face positive feedback. Positive feedback through email is good, but never use it as a substitute for doing it in person.

Use staff meetings.
Make it a regular part of your agenda to talk about what is going well and how you are going to recognize those things. Hold others accountable for giving regular, specific, positive feedback to employees.

Your managers may need some training and follow-up coaching to develop the skill. Correcting poor performance comes much more naturally than giving positive feedback for most people.

Don’t assume.
Simply because you think you give a lot of positive feedback to employees does not mean it is being heard by the employees. Do some regular surveys of employees to see what their perceptions are about positive feedback in the workplace.

Practice Managing By ­­Wandering Around (M.B.W.A.)
Get out of your office each week and walk around your operation looking for good things that are happening. They are certainly happening, or your company would not succeed. It is up to you to make M.B.W.A. a regular and consistent part of your daily routine.

In summary, giving positive feedback is one of the most powerful tools you have in your manager’s toolkit. It can make a huge difference in productivity, quality, customer service, teamwork, and even employee turnover. You like to get a pat on the back now and then, right? Your employees are no different; they want you to pay more attention to what’s going right.

Steve Schumacher is a management consultant, trainer and public speaker with more than 25 years of experience in numerous industries throughout North America, including aggregates operations. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..