Breath of Clarity

Comment #1: Positive Feedback

Original Post by Lisa Neuberger:

True positive feedback provides the recipient with specific information about what he or she is doing right. It encourages the person to continue to work at that high level and expresses appreciation for the person’s efforts (Manning 2014). To be effective, positive feedback should be given in a timely manner, meaning you don’t want to wait too long after the desired behavior to comment on it. One resource I found said that offering positive feedback in front of the rest of the team or the company can help employees feel appreciated (Indeed 2021). However, I’ve seen that go both ways. For instance, if the leader often praises one employee in front of the group and rarely praises others, that can cause resentment in the group.

A leader demonstrates caring for the recipient and gives them the credit for the positive outcome. The leader will also consider the employee’s attitude along with their work performance. They strive to create a space where employees can produce high-quality work along with a positive attitude (Manning 2014). On the other hand, an authority will only focus on the outcome, not the person, and may even share in the credit for it. Even worse, an authority may not even provide positive feedback or any feedback at all.

I’ll use my own team leader as an example of great positive feedback. I’m only five weeks into my new job, and while things are going well, it really is overwhelming at times. Every week, I meet with my leader in a one-on-one to discuss what’s going right and what I might need help with. Last week she made it a point to stress that she was happy I was on her team, that the team was happy I was there. She pointed out the strengths I bring to the team and why they needed me. That short talk made such a difference in my morale. I think back on it often when I’m feeling buried in new procedures.

Indeed. 2021. “Top 10 Positive Feedback Examples for Employee Performance.” March 4, 2021.

Manning, George. 2014. The Art of Leadership. New York: McGraw-Hill

My Comment:

Hi Lisa,

Good point that part of positive feedback is highlighting the employee’s efforts that lead them to success. It supports the notion of publicly recognizing a stellar employee insofar as the leader draws the link between effort and the success. That said, it motivates not only the successful employee, but additionally the ones at the bottom of the production ladder. Positive feedback is a beautiful way to show that effort and attitude go hand in hand.

Also, awesome point that the employees feel appreciated when positive feedback is in front of the group. It generates a positive work environment. It shows that the leader sees appreciating employees as worth it enough to put into a team meeting agenda. In other words, it is worth taking the time to appreciate employees when there are always other important matters that the team could be discussing during the rare opportunity of everyone convening together.

Your idea about publicly praising all successful employees equally goes back to the first sentence in regard to making the positive feedback be about the specific behavior rather than the person. At the same time, as your example illustrates, in a private conversation I feel as though telling a new employee that he/she is appreciated as a person on the team is a great way of building trust, making someone feel comfortable, and empowering them to continue doing amazing work. I feel as though a public positive feedback comment that focuses on the specific behavior coupled with a private positive feedback comment that more personally focuses on enhancing rapport and trust is the best way to lead.

Reply by Lisa Neuberger:

Thanks for your comments, Mary! To add on to your thoughts that the best positive feedback is offered generally in public and more specifically in private, that also gives the manager more opportunities for opening the lines of communication with members of his or her team. As you say, that’s a great tool for building trust and increasing comfort levels both individually and in the group.

Reply by Liz Dowling:

Lisa and Mary,

Great conversation so far. I wanted to challenge one of your thoughts. You both encouraged positive feeback in a public setting. As a leader, I encourage knowing your team and their personal preferences. I’ve learned over the years some introverts would not enjoy the public attention and would prefer just a private moment with their supervisor. Some may enjoy an email all staff shout out and some would be okay with a public shoutout at a meeting. It’s another element of knowing how each person responds and how you can best build that rapport.