A lot of leaders I work with tell me that they're really good at giving positive feedback. They make sure to tell employees all the time that they're doing a great job. When I share that saying "great job" or giving a thumbs up isn't enough (and isn't actually positive feedback), many seem surprised.
Most leaders only praise their employees and rarely give actual positive feedback.
And while praise is nice - everyone likes to hear that they're great - it's not enough to keep employees engaged.
Saying "great job" is a mixed message. Even though the employee doesn't say it, he or she is likely thinking: What exactly did I do that you liked? What impact did I make? And without more explanation, it's almost certain that the employee's interpretation of why you're saying good job won't match why you're actually saying it. Which means the praise that you're giving probably isn't making much of a difference in motivation.
Start replacing praise with positive feedback.
- Be prompt - Don't wait until your next 1:1 meeting to share positive feedback. You want positive feedback to stand out on it's own, so connect with the employee - whether it's an informal conversation at their desk or grabbing them right after a meeting your attending together.
- Be specific - Include details! This is what separates positive feedback from praise.
- Situation - What was the event? When did it happen?
- Action - What exactly did the employee do? (Saying "what you did yesterday in the meeting was awesome!" is not enough.
- Be sincere - End the feedback with a "thank you" and include the result of the employee's actions on the company, the team, or their personal performance.
So instead of saying "Great job in the team meeting yesterday," say this next time:
"Your presentation was excellent in our team meeting this morning. You were organized and I could tell you practiced. Everyone was engaged in what you had to say. As a result, the team is really motivated to meet this quarters sales goals, and that's because of you. Thank you."