Make sure your positive feedback actually incentivizes positive action

Everyone wants to be seen and appreciated for their contributions at work.

Sometimes they toil for hours on end to produce something of value or help the people around them. Or maybe they brought up an idea that led to a larger, successful project that took on a life of its own. Or maybe they brought in bagels for the office!

Whatever it is, it’s crucial that leaders call out the positive behaviors productively by pinpointing the benefits and tying these behaviors to larger trends.

1. Be specific

But the flip side of that is a less obvious, but equally impotent generic optimism. I’ve spoken with dozens of friends and colleagues that often have warm feelings towards their managers, but are still unhappy. They rarely receive critical feedback. More importantly, the positive feedback they get never calls out the specific actions or accomplishments.

They are told over and over again that they’re “doing a great job!” or that they’re “keep killing it!” — but they never seem to learn what’s actually working.

Instead of: “Great job on that report!”

Try: “Really appreciate your data-driven approach to the analysis in your report.”

2. Abstract what behaviors matter

Is this person doing something that will help the business if those behaviors are repeated? Are they exhibiting a trait that you wish others would emulate? Try encouraging what you see by tying it to a longer-term vision.

Instead of: “Love that your reports are so data-driven!”

Try: “Your data-driven approach embodies the direction we’re trying to go in our analysis. You’ve set a great example and direction for the team.”

This encourages behaviors not only by calling out what you liked, but by highlighting the opportunity for the individual, others, and the organization if that person kept killing it in that specific way.

This post was created with Typeshare

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