The Best Ways to Give Positive Feedback

positive feedback represented by two blocks with one being happy and the other being sad

Key Takeaways

  • Positive feedback is about what you’ve done correctly. About where your strengths lie.
  • Different personalities like receiving feedback in different ways. Take a test to find out what you prefer. 
  • Feedback should be provided immediately, with as many details as possible, and ideally in writing.

Positive feedback is extremely important when it comes to leading a team. It’s what allows your people to understand what, how, and when they’re doing things correctly. From there they can copy that same base equation and use it to improve how they complete tasks. Different people like to receive positive feedback in different ways based on their personality types.  

The idea of feedback is one we’re all familiar with. We’ll figure out a way to save the company money during a big project, and then our manager will message us telling us we did a good job. It makes us feel valued and knowledgeable. But, some bosses aren’t the best when it comes to actually give feedback when things go well – not just wrong. 

In this article, we’ll talk about why feedback is important as well as the two kinds of you’re likely to see in the workplace. We’ll also discuss how different people like to receive positive feedback and some of the best ways you can deliver it. 

Why is positive feedback important?

Positive reinforcement is a tried and true psychological trick when it comes to training someone. Letting them know they did a good job gives them a cue you’re happy with their performance and you want it to remain that way. 

While it’s mostly used to highlight actions that went above and beyond the scope of work, it’s also a useful tool for other moments. If a person is learning a new system and is able to complete the minimum requirements properly, let them know! Help build their confidence so over time they can keep improving to that above and beyond the point. 

Positive versus Negative Feedback

One of the best ways you can help your team improve their skills at work is by giving them feedback. The constructive, helpful kind. The type that allows you to understand what you did wrong, why, and how you can avoid it next time. Looking at it from a big picture view, you might recognize two distinct types. Positive and negative feedback. 

Positive feedback will highlight things you’ve done correctly. It could be something like a project you completed faster than expected, or a sale you were able to close when no one else could. It focuses on letting the other person know where their strength lies, and it helps them pinpoint the exact actions they used to accomplish this.  

Negative feedback, on the other hand, will mostly focus on pointing out what was done incorrectly. It may or may not be followed up by concrete steps on how to address those mistakes. The best type of negative feedback should be constructive and helpful with a clear idea of how to prevent the issue from happening again. 

How do people like to receive positive feedback?

It really depends on your personality type, and how you best take in criticism. For example, some people prefer direct and brief, and may not have patience for things to be sugar-coated. Someone else might prefer to know how the changes being proposed can benefit them and their job. With a third type, you might be better off offering concrete examples. Do keep in mind that feedback, even the good kind, might still cause them to become emotional. So it’s important to allow them some room to compose themselves after if needed. 

If you’re interested in knowing what your (or your team’s) personality type prefers when it comes to feedback, you might want to consider a specialized quiz. At Professional Leadership Institute we offer a free option that focuses specifically on your work personality. The DISC assessment is only 15 questions long and will help you figure out not only how you like to receive feedback, but how you like to provide it. 

Tips on how to give positive feedback

There are countless ways you can give positive feedback to someone. And sometimes you might want to use more than one method at the same time, depending on the personality type you’re talking with. 

Below, we collected a few examples of how positive feedback should be delivered for maximum impact. 

Do it immediately

For smaller things that you notice they did well, be sure to let them know as soon as it happens. It’s important the feedback comes while the situation is still fresh in their mind. This will allow both of you to truly understand the information being exchanged and help communication stay clear.  

Do it in writing

This is one of those times where you want to leave a paper trail. For the team member receiving your positive feedback, it’s a great feeling to experience. Being able to read it again and bring those emotions back up to the surface is actually a great way for them to self-motivate. Send an email or a Slack – they’ll thank you for it.  

Be specific

Tell them exactly what they did right, when, and why it was done correctly. Was the format of their report easy to read? Was the delivery of their presentation engaging and easy to follow? Maybe you saw them deescalate a customer professionally while remaining calm and helpful? Help them understand what of that situation they should be trying to copy in all future tasks. 

Do it publicly 

This one can be a little tricky since you do risk other people listening feeling left out or slighted. But, there’s something to be said about public praise. If the person receiving it worked hard, then other people should know about their effort. Plus, it could also work in your favour in the sense that some healthy competition could improve overall department performance. 

Learn how to give feedback and get the best out of your team with our course on coaching-based performance reviews!

Related Readings

Professional Leadership Institute (PLI) is an educational website providing professionals from all types of businesses with practical education in entrepreneurial leadership. To keep evolving your leadership toolkit, additional PLI resources below will be useful:

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