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Practical Application: Delivering Positive Feedback in the Workplace

Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

Here we'll be looking at scenarios in which a supervisor must deliver positive feedback to an employee in a way that creates a meaningful impact. We'll consider different strategies to use and how to approach the situation yourself in your own work environment.

Why Give Positive Feedback?

When you're at work, how do you know if you're doing a good job? Many of us look to our supervisors to let us know. Even if you have room for growth (which we all do!), it's still nice to hear the positive things that you're doing as well. Positive feedback is more than just a way to make someone feel good, it's a valuable tool to motivate and engage your employees.

Positive feedback boosts moral and helps workers feel like they are part of a larger purpose. These things lead to increased engagement and productivity. Positive feedback also helps let workers know what practices to continue. It's an important part of supervising employees and many recommend that positive feedback should actually outweigh constructive criticism during reviews.

How feedback is delivered matters. Today, we're going to look at three scenarios where positive feedback is needed and consider the best way to provide it.

Scenario 1:

Your team has been working hard the past week to meet a deadline. You notice one employee in particular, Karen, has been staying late each day to help with shared responsibilities on the project. Even though she's off at five, you've noticed Karen staying later on her own time and encouraging others to do so also.

How could you praise Karen for this in an effective way? To start, think about how you yourself might like to receive feedback. Feeling seen is important to retaining employees and making them feel valued in the company. Try to catch Karen as soon as possible to commend her on her efforts.

Remember to include specifics as to how this behavior helped the company as well. Instead of simply thanking Karen for staying late, give some supporting details as to how her staying late made an impact. Did she motivate others to work harder too? Were her efforts crucial in meeting the deadline? Be specific.

Lastly, you can consider whether Karen should be only given the feedback one on one, or if a shout out in front of others would be beneficial. Some people prefer not to be put in the spot light, even for a job well done. To decide this, you need to know your team. If you think Karen would respond positively to the praise, consider calling her out for her extra effort in a staff meeting.

Scenario 2:

José has been working with an especially difficult client lately. Despite the client being late and constantly changing their mind, José has made them feel welcome in the company. As a result of José's hard work and patience, the client has decided to sign onto another project, bringing in ample income for the next quarter.

How should you provide José with positive feedback about his work? Recall that it's important to provide feedback as soon as possible about a behavior. This is especially true when an employee might be under stress, such as the emotional stress José is experiencing with this challenging client. A daily reminder that José's patience is seen and appreciated will help him reload his emotional stamina.

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