The Key to Providing Positive Feedback

Appreciating your employees can boost productivity and revolutionize your company. Here’s the best way to get it done.

By the Dave Partners Team


Feedback is one of the most valuable tools in an employer’s toolbox. Employee disengagement — the process whereby workers lose their motivation, drop away from the company’s vision, and may even wind up carrying toxic resentment toward their jobs and co-workers — is a massively costly problem. It cuts into productivity and can be corrosive to the culture of the office. The simple act of noticing and commenting on an employee’s performance can stop this cycle. And, though negative or critical feedback can often help by lighting a fire under a complacent employee, positive feedback is even more useful in terms of helping an employee develop the motivation to perform at a higher level of excellence.

In other words: Simply encouraging the people you work with can make them easier to work with, and better at what they do. So how do you deliver feedback and encouragement to optimize its impact? Here are a few tips:

1) Give feedback in the moment.

Don’t wait until the end of the quarter, or even the end of the project, to let someone know when they’ve done a good job. The moment you notice someone’s performance, compliment on it. This helps your direct reports to realize that you are keeping an eye on what they do, and that it does matter, both to you and to the company.

2) Make your feedback highly specific.

Don’t just save up a few rote compliments and dole them out when you want to get an employee charged up. Try to keep track of each employee’s strengths and weaknesses, and, when giving encouraging feedback, list at least one or two reasons why you believe your employee did a good job. This demonstrates authenticity and thoughtfulness, and helps your employee trust the feedback you give, even (or especially) when it’s critical.

3) Create a culture of appreciation

Ultimately, your employees will do their strongest work when they’re working together. Toxicity and interpersonal politics can lessen employee engagement just as much as an inattentive manager. Create opportunities for employees to say what they value about the work of their peers, and encourage them to carry this practice outside of structured feedback sessions, into their day-to-day work.

Always remember: When employees learn to value the people they work with (including you, their humble manager) they learn to value their jobs, and make a connection with the company that goes beyond the paycheck. At that point, you’re no longer simply trying to make people do it right — you’re commanding a team of leaders, ready to tackle the company’s objectives and conquer the world.


Dave Partners is a boutique headhunting firm exclusively for the top venture-backed technology companies. We find the top 1% of A+ talent for our clients. To learn more, contact us or visit us online.

This post originally appeared on the Dave Partners blog.

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