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Positive Feedback – Managers Forget!

Why do managers forget to give the positive feedback that motivates their direct reports and gives the necessary encouragement to stay motivated? They’re busy, pre-occupied, but mostly, they just take things for granted — it’s part of the job; it’s expected. However, people like to know where they stand, like to know that when they make the effort or think of something creative, it is appreciated.

Here are some questions to think about, which may help managers recognize when and how to respond:

  • When someone does something special or beyond the call of duty, is there a special thank you or something special like dinner-for-two or tickets to a ballgame or even a weekend away?
  • When someone works night and day to get a report done or an assignment completed, do you simply nod and ask him to leave it on your desk?
  • When you’ve coached someone on a particular behavior or talk, and she does it right or almost gets it right, do you reinforce the behavior with words of encouragement?
  • Do you wait until the end of the project to tell someone that he’s done it well or do you provide ongoing positive feedback to keep him motivated?
  • When someone simply does what she’s meant to do, do you say anything?
  • Or when you praise someone for something done well, do you also pick on some minor issue that really doesn’t matter?

And a few reminders:

  • Even a small “thank you” goes a long way.
  • When giving praise, make it specific and make it related to the impact of a specific action or behavior and not a throwaway generalization.
  • Keep praise in proportion to the action or behavior. Don’t give phony praise. Your sincerity becomes dubious.
  • Don’t overdo the praise for an individual in front of team members.
  • And, finally, give praise throughout the year. Don’t wait for the annual performance review!

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