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The PerformYard Blog

A practical look at building and implementing your perfect performance management process.

Not All Positive Feedback is Created Equal

The carrot or the stick. Teaching a behavior is often a combination of feedback that rewards desired actions and punishes undesired outcomes. While this is an easy concept to understand, not all reinforcement is effectively delivered.

This is especially true in the workplace where recognizing a job well done is an important part of a high performance culture. Not only does it boost morale, it also helps define the behaviors and outcomes that your company values. However, if it isn’t done right or with the right frequency, your positive feedback might not be making an impact.

Next time you get the opportunity to reward a high-flying employee, remember these five characteristics of good positive feedback:Carrot

Be Timely: The most important aspect of giving positive reinforcement is that is it is delivered shortly after the action. As time passes, not only will it be harder to recall the details of the success, you will have missed the opportunity to allow your employee to reflect on their hard work.

Even if you are planning a more formal recognition, it is still important to follow up within at least a day or two with an appreciative note.

Be Honest: Rewarding the right employees for work that they actually did is important for your credibility and also for team morale. Giving too much credit to an employee on false grounds can lead to unintended consequences by showing that you value dishonesty over teamwork.

This may take some investigating, so be sure that your mid-level managers are on board and understand the importance of giving honest feedback.

Be Meaningful: Make sure to set a high enough threshold that employees and teams have to stretch to earn recognition. Rewarding a mediocre employee performance devalues the high performers on your team.

Additionally, sincere delivery of a reward for great work shows how much you appreciate exceptional effort. In some cases, a thoughtful, appreciative note can be just as effective and appreciated as a small gift.

Be Detailed: Make sure that your hard worker doesn’t lose the lesson when you feed them praise. Adding in specific details on the work they did and why their behavior was outstanding will help them repeat their performance in the future.

Be Attentive: It can be easy to overlook the quiet performers on your team. However, finding the diamond performances in the rough shows that you have a finger on the pulse of your company. Additionally, demonstrating that popularity isn’t a factor in rewarding a job well done will help better convey how you define exceptional performance.

Developing a talent for providing good positive feedback is an important part of growing a high performance culture at any organization. How do you handle recognizing your top performers?

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