Examples of Giving Positive Feedback
What Is Positive Feedback?
Positive feedback is a conversation that both recognizes and rewards an action that has had an impact.
Positive feedback is a communication tool that can be used to bring about improvements in the workplace quickly and build positive, productive working relationships.
It usually takes place in quick, face-to-face and informal conversations.
Annual review cycles are appropriate for assessing and tracking progress year-on-year; however, positive feedback can drive rapid growth by recognizing achievements, strengths or small improvements in a colleague’s activities.
Feedback must be constructive to have a positive impact and provide specific, detailed, prompt and personalized insight into the results of an action, skill or behavior.
It references the context of those actions and is a part of an insightful conversation around performance and teamwork.
A feedback conversation goes beyond providing compliments or criticism.
It provides specific goals, strategies and suggestions for improvement to enhance what has already been done well.
These positive conversations can take place between coworkers or with leaders.
The majority of employees desire to know how to improve their performance; therefore, offering and receiving regular feedback to your team can raise achievements and boost morale.
Constructive feedback should be a part of every team’s communication habits.
Giving and receiving feedback from your team members helps to open avenues of communication for constructive or further negative feedback when and if it is necessary.
Why Is Positive Feedback Important?
At a managerial level, positive feedback is a crucial part of leadership. It improves engagement, lifts morale and maintains team communication channels.
Surveys have found that 67% of employees whose managers focused on strengths were fully engaged in their work, as opposed to 31% whose managers focused on weaknesses in their feedback conversations.
Engaged employees remain in their jobs for longer; therefore, positive feedback can also improve employee retention rates.
However, positive feedback is not exclusive to managers and their subsidiaries. Giving and receiving feedback is also the responsibility of employees and is something anyone working in a team can actively engage in initiating for their benefit and ease of others working around them.
A culture wherein all employees feel comfortable to feedback to each other on their day-to-day performance is one where real progress can be made.
Coworkers who habitually support each other are likely to remain motivated, engaged and feel safe when leaving their comfort zone to learn and, therefore, drive the progress of the whole team.
Short, informal face-to-face feedback conversations are more significant than annual reviews in driving progress.
Individual improvement requires actions and achievements to be recognized immediately for new skills or habits to be implemented. Poor habits are likely to stagnate and become ingrained in a team activity without regular, iterative feedback conversations in which positive behavior is reinforced.
Learning to spot positive feedback opportunities and positively frame constructive or negative ideas can significantly improve the way your team works together.
What Are the Consequences of Poorly Delivered Feedback?
Depending on how feedback is delivered, even well-intended positive comments can have negative consequences. Without carefully considering the audience, context and timing of feedback, it can do more damage than good.
Negative feedback provides no structure for improvement for the receiver and is, therefore, likely to affect their confidence and cause a loss of respect for the person who delivered the feedback, damaging their working relationship.
Feedback which arrives with no warning can be anxiety-inducing. Offering and receiving feedback at appropriate times is important to ensure it has a positive impact.
Positive feedback can still be poor. If feedback lacks structure or detail, the receiver will have no framework to take action for future improvement
Subjective feedback on personality, rather than actions, can trigger defensive responses, undermining team relationships.
When giving or receiving feedback, you are impacting a co-worker’s future decision-making and self-esteem, their abilities and their working relationships.
Therefore, learning to construct positive feedback sensitively is just as important as getting into the habit of giving and receiving it.
The Losada ratio found that for people to stay engaged and motivated at work, they needed a ratio of at least six positive interactions for everyone one negative one.
Even negative feedback can be framed as a positive, constructive interaction.
What Good Feedback Looks Like
Useful feedback drills into the details of the context and impact of an action.
“Jamie, I loved the infographics you created on your slides in your presentation. They caught the attention of the directors and it helped up the pace of your presentation.”
The person giving feedback in this statement has identified the improvement made, named the context and revealed the effect it had.
Feedback given at a time when the thought put into the action is still fresh in the mind of the receiver will have a much greater impact.
Short feedback given at the right time can become an integral part of any working process and inform much better outcomes if used appropriately.
A delay in giving feedback on an action that had an impact will mean the opportunity for the receiver to implement that feedback into their next activity will have passed.
To improve on the example above:
“Jamie, I loved the infographics you created on your slides in your presentation yesterday. I could see how engaged the board was and it helped up the pace of your presentation. Let’s include those in next week’s pitch too.”
Truly constructive feedback is the start of a conversation, not the end of one.
It is simple to turn any statement into a question, and asking the receiver for their input displays a willingness to collaborate on improvements that their actions have enabled.
To improve on the first example:
“Jamie, I loved the infographics you created on your slides in your presentation yesterday. What software did you use to work on these? Did you notice that they piqued the interest of the board? Do you think the pace of the workshop was faster than our previous one?”
Questions offer the receiver a chance to reflect on their actions, shed light on the positive outcomes of their choices and offer them a chance to respond in an active, actionable way.
The measurable details of the feedback you give are principal and will transform good feedback into an impactful interaction.
Saying, “I liked the activities you chose for our training yesterday” could make the receiver feel good about the work that they delivered.
However, this statement is not specific regarding which activities were enjoyable or the impact they had.
Instead, add details about the situation, the behavior and the impact it had on you:
“I loved the second activity you devised for our training yesterday. Having a chance to share information and ideas right at the start of the session made us all engaged and feel like our voices were valued. I’d love to take part in something similar in your next session.”
Showing you are aware of a coworker’s goals demonstrates that you care and are willing to support them in their professional development.
Take time to consider any goals they have shared with you and proactively notice if they make improvements in those areas.
These things do not have to be productivity or impact-related. Your coworkers’ wellbeing should also be important to you, and you are likely to have more awareness of their day-to-day improvements than their managers.
Again, asking questions is a great way to personalize feedback and show you are interested in someone else’s working process or approach.
For example, if you notice a team member seems less stressed and is meeting deadlines more easily, you could open a feedback conversation by saying:
“You seem to be really on top of your research this week. Can I ask what tools you’re using to get through all of your projects? I could do with some productivity tips.”
Frequently, small actions that have a positive impact on working culture go unnoticed.
Supplying positive feedback for small things which have genuinely impacted you personally is a great way to build team rapport.
For example, you could comment on someone going above and beyond their role to streamline a team activity:
“I wanted to say thank you for getting the meeting room ready for our presentation so early yesterday. It helped me feel much calmer and gave me more time to prepare our pitch.”
Remember, always state the impact that action had, even if it was not directly related to the work.
Guidelines for Giving Positive Feedback
Gain Permission to Give Feedback
Even the most open-minded, proactive employees will have times when they are not ready to receive feedback.
It is important to catch someone at the right moment when they are not busy, overwhelmed or in a rush to their next meeting.
For example, an appropriate way to initiate a feedback conversation could be to say:
“I just wanted to let you know I thought you did well in your presentation yesterday. Do you have a minute to talk about it?”
Lead With a Positive
The question “Can I have a chat?” is likely to invoke panic, as the context of the discussion is deliberately ambiguous.
You can precede or follow a question with a positive remark. For example:
“I appreciate you staying later to finish our project yesterday. Do you have some time today to talk about it later?”
By opening with a compliment, you have created an informal atmosphere in which a feedback conversation can take place, and you have let the receiver know in advance that you intend to give them positive feedback rather than criticism.
People develop in four key areas at work:
- Habit and feeling
The most impactful of these is how they feel about themselves, their skills and their relationships with coworkers, as this is the lens through which they perceive other aspects of their development.
Be specific regarding what you are addressing while simultaneously considering and empathizing with their emotions regarding what they have achieved.
If you know a coworker has received feedback from their management about their lack of knowledge in a certain area, you could seek out an opportunity to feedback and reinforce their confidence in a different skill area you know they are proud of.
“I was so impressed with your analysis of that big data set we received yesterday. It seems like you have got to grips with the concepts in the report.”
Frame Feedback Around Actions, Not Personality
The feedback process can easily become personal and harm working relationships.
A great way to ensure your feedback is not judgemental or subjective is to hone in on actions. Especially when feedback relates to behaviors, as opposed to skills or knowledge.
- “I just wanted to say I appreciate you arriving on time for our meetings this week” details an action a person has taken to improve your team performance. “I just wanted to say I appreciate you not being late” has a more implicit judgment about a personality trait embedded in it. In this case, tardiness or disorganization.
- “Yesterday, I thought you worded your questions to the board carefully, and they responded well to them” is more positive than: “The way you spoke to the board yesterday was much less aggressive than usual”.
Avoid commenting on a person’s personality where possible, and focus on actions they are taking that are helping your whole team improve.
How to Receive Positive Feedback
Good feedback should open up an avenue for a continued conversation on progress; therefore, knowing how to receive feedback well is as important as knowing how to give it.
Listening to any feedback you receive is important. Pay full attention to the person speaking to you, avoid distraction and take the time to process each aspect of the feedback you receive before responding to it.
Go beyond saying thank you and summarise the feedback you have been given. Identify the key concepts and feelings the person has expressed to you and check with them to ensure you have fully understood.
Let go of any judgment you might feel toward the person giving you feedback. It is tempting to jump on the defensive when someone comments on your work, even if they do open with a positive piece.
If you do not agree with the feedback you received, you can decide on its reliability.
You can check with other coworkers and ask for feedback on the same aspects of your work, and compare these ideas to the feedback you received.
Receiving positive feedback is an opportunity to build a better working relationship with a coworker. It can be the start of a continued supportive and impactful conversation, rather than the end of one; show appreciation and offer the same support in return.
Many people fear giving feedback at work; however, the anxiety is usually in regards to the reaction they will receive if it is not interpreted as intended.
This often prevents it from being shared at all.
You can create relationships as an employee that normalizes positive feedback by listening and responding carefully and factually.
Positive feedback only improves productivity and team morale and serves to strengthen relationships and communication within teams.
Therefore, it is important to consider how you structure feedback to make it constructive, empathetic and delivered at the appropriate time.
It is tempting to offer feedback contemplation; therefore, give feedback only when it is useful. Assess the circumstances and structure of the feedback before offering it to the receiver.
Actively improving your ability to give and receive positive feedback will inevitably positively impact your team.
If you can make your coworkers feel heard, you can build a long-term team relationship; therefore, when more difficult feedback needs to be delivered, it will have a positive, productive impact on the work of your team.