The Power of Positive and Timely Feedback


Abigael John

Customer Support Manager, TAMS

welcome on board

Feedback by definition is information used as a basis for improvement. To this end, every stakeholder within the product and/or service value chain is required to have the necessary information needed to aid their improvement.

Stepping off with a popular line from the chief learning officer (CLO) of the Department of Veteran Affairs Jim Trinka, “Feedback is a gift, ideas are the currency of our next success”.

This information could either be positive or negative but however it pans out, early research by psychologists revealed that there are a number of predictors to achieving outstanding success within a team and the strongest of them all has been to deliver five positive messages for every negative one.

The following years after this outstanding achievement saw human capital grow especially in an environment where the culture and approach hovers around positive feedback, as it has been seen to have an immense effect on the overall mentality of the team. Moreso, further delving into this field reveals that timing of feedback is a common denominator which automatically improves the overall output.

In recent times, managers are often confused with questions such as:

  • How often should I express praise to employees?
  • When is it favorable to criticize, and how can you make it less ambiguous?
  • What’s the ideal praise-to-criticism ratio for creating happy, productive teams?

While at times, it is necessary to criticize employees, global business leaders are warming up to the psychology of positive feedback as its influences on employee satisfaction and engagement is almost faultless.

welcome on board Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

Tools for delivering Positive Feedbacks

When delivering feedbacks, leaders are encouraged to use the following tools as a unique form of expression:

1. “I” Format

This is delivered by using the following talk line: I appreciate it…, I saw what you did…, It makes me feel…, It's important…

2. Immediate Recognition

This is delivered when leaders give the praise or recognition directly to the employee; while another employee is present; and/or talk about the employee to another manager or supervisor.

3. Informal Recognition

This could be achieved when leaders use other low cost but effective methods of giving feedback such as: wall of fame by displaying photos of achievers, give certificates of appreciation or create a special award.

4. Designing Programs

This can be achieved when leaders focus on a few areas or goals that will have the most impact on the business. Where should you direct your recognition efforts is subject to a transparent achievement process e.g. Target Achievement. This program should be transparent to inspire trust within the organizational reward process.

In recent times, leaders are employed to embed these tools into Performance Appraisal Systems however, most of the process could be completed during one-on-one where two-way conversation is encouraged to address specific concerns, questions and ideas.

Best performing leaders are great learners because their non-regressive pursuit of information sets them on the pedestal for success, even though the ratio of positive feedback to the negative one is 5 to 1, the above tools helps to play on employees’ strength thereby allowing them to explore organic strengths rather than mastering skills which seems difficult for them.

Getting positive feedback is not enough, however learning from it and adopting its use for organization effectiveness is a skill worth building.

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