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6 Ways to Give Feedback That's Appreciated

“Good job” doesn’t get good results

Feedback isn’t code for “corrective action.” Done correctly, feedback includes the good, the bad, and occasionally, the ugly. The good—the praise—is so important to employees because it lets them know their efforts are appreciated. Leaders who notice, care and want to develop their people are huge drivers of employee engagement. And if a simple “thank you” goes a long way, then meaningful feedback goes the full distance.

Meaningful feedback

Don’t miss the opportunity to deliver strong specific praise. A pat on the back is ambiguous and can be interpreted as anything from “good work” to “nice try.”

  • Recognize employee strengths – “Great job on the presentation today. You have a confident presence when you present, and it is clearly a strength. Your natural approach connected with the audience and really captured their attention.”
  • Highlight the impact made – “You worked hard on the presentation's messaging and, based on the audience’s questions, it was obvious they heard the key points and were interested in learning more.”
  • Offer the opportunity to develop – “Is delivering presentations something you enjoy? We’ve got an opportunity at the end of next month to present the new product line to our executive team, and I would love to bring you into that project if you’re interested.”

Custom delivery

Leaders need to understand how each employee best receives feedback. Just like coffee, people have strong preferences about how they are praised for a job well done.

  • Private vs. Public – Know with absolute certainty if delivering accolades at an all-staff forum is what keeps your star employee shining, or if they prefer their praise low-key and out of earshot of their colleagues.
  • Personal vs. Team – Be clear if the praise should be focused on the individual employee or on the team. ( e.g. “Beth developed a new strategy which resulted in a 10% increase in new clients last month” vs. “Under Beth’s leadership, the innovation team implemented a new strategy which ultimately led to a 10% increase in new clients last month.”)
  • Results that matter – Understand employees’ motivators to get more mileage from praise. Focus compliments on the likely source for their sense of accomplishment: being a strong contributor to the team, pioneering new processes, direct effect on the bottom line, etc.

Feedback is an opportunity

Prepare to give praise with the same thoughtful consideration you’d give to delivering feedback to address a concern. Both types of feedback present the opportunity for employee development, which is a win-win for employees and leadership. Name the skill that won the praise and, with heightened employee awareness of what’s working and what’s not, you can expect to see more of the same great performance.

Be sincere. Be specific. Be genuine. Say “thank you” and then deliver the real praise.


Peter Reek

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