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Every organization should recognize and celebrate employees’ efforts. Positive feedback, when done right, fosters engagement, motivation, and employee growth. But striking the right chord with a supportive message is easier said than done. If you’re looking to spread encouragement and positive reinforcement at your company — or if you’re just looking for the right way to thank a co-worker — read on for some actionable tips and feedback examples for a wide range of situations.
What is positive feedback?
Positive feedback includes any time an individual is recognized or praised. It can range from a few quick words of thanks after a particularly productive meeting to a memorable gift and speech during an employee’s tenth anniversary celebration. By highlighting strengths and demonstrating that their contributions are truly appreciated, positive feedback reinforces the behaviors that lead to individual and organization-wide success. It’s the carrot to the stick of constructive criticism, and it’s a key ingredient in any attempt to keep motivation and engagement high, whether over the course of a year-long project or a 90-minute soccer match.
How to provide positive feedback at work
Let’s dive into how you can ensure your words of appreciation always land well, no matter what the situation is, with these evergreen tips for giving effective positive feedback — along with examples of how to put each into action.
Be specific and timely
“I wasn’t sure how this meeting was going to end up until you chimed in, Fiona! Thank you so much for addressing the client’s concerns so thoroughly and professionally. We really owe you.”
Positive feedback is far more effective when it’s provided quickly and clearly refers to the behavior or action you want to recognize. It’s the difference between knowing your manager or teammate noticed your extra effort in the moment and wondering why they’re mentioning something you’ve forgotten yourself two months later. And you’re far more likely to see the recipient repeat their behavior if you call it out specifically, as what gets recognized gets repeated.
Use an appropriate communication channel
“Hi Sarah! I just wanted to drop you a quick note to express my gratitude for contributing such amazing feedback on all your peer reviews this go-around! I can tell you really put thought into every recommendation you made, and I wanted to let you know I appreciate it.”
There’s no right or wrong way to deliver positive feedback. It all depends on what makes the most sense based on how your organization is structured and the specific situation. If you’re recognizing a remote employee on their tenth work anniversary, a team- or company-wide virtual meeting where you can deliver your words of appreciation face-to-face may be the best call. If you’re instead looking to commend your manager on a well-led client meeting, opt for a brief email or chat message instead.
Back up your words with great rewards
“Congratulations on your promotion! To celebrate, we got you two tickets to the Taylor Swift concert coming up! I hope this makes your career milestone extra special.”
Social recognition is always welcome, but some occasions call for more. Look to boost the impact of your positive feedback with exciting rewards personalized to the recipient’s tastes. This is much simpler when your organization has adopted an employee recognition and rewards platform that features a points-based reward system. You receive a certain stipend of points you can give to other team members when you recognize them. They watch their points accumulate and then redeem them for gifts and experiences they actually want in the platform’s rewards marketplace. This empowers everyone with the ability to make their words of appreciation even more meaningful.
Recognize your peers
“Thanks for being someone I can always rely on, John. We’ve been helping each other out since we started training together, and it’s made such a huge difference during my time here.”
Giving positive feedback to your direct reports and company leaders is important, but don’t neglect peer-to-peer recognition. When team members acknowledge each other’s efforts, they’re more likely to form genuine, lasting bonds that can pay dividends both personally and professionally. So when you see a teammate go above and beyond, or when they give you a much-needed helping hand, make sure they know you appreciate them.
Link feedback to company values
“We’ve all heard how one of our major goals is to support sustainability, but I honestly felt that had fallen on the back burner here until your recent initiative. It’s great to see how recycling our products can help the environment and make a difference in our bottom line. Thanks for making this value come alive for me!”
Most organizations have some type of vision statement or list of values — but how many employees know what they are, let alone see them in action on a frequent basis? Linking positive feedback to specific company values is an effective way to show how those values are more than just words on your organization’s website. It aligns employees with your organizational culture and shows them how their efforts contribute to the bigger picture.
15 examples of positive feedback for employees
Opportunities to provide positive feedback arise every day, but most pass by unnoticed. Here are 15 great examples of how and when to give employees some words of encouragement.
1. Acknowledging successes
“Your management of our new product development initiative has been outstanding. It looks like we’re going to be ready to start delivering it way ahead of schedule, and there’s no way that happens with your dedicated work and hard-won experience. I wanted to make sure you knew your incredible results hadn’t gone unnoticed.”
There are few things more demoralizing than doing a great job…and seeing your work go unrecognized. Don’t hesitate to dish out some positive feedback whenever you see a co-worker succeed in matters big or small. The latter is just as important as the former — when an employee sees that others appreciate all the little things they do on a daily basis, they’ll have the confidence and motivation to excel when the big moments arrive.
2. Celebrating milestones and anniversaries
“It’s been three years today, Kaitlyn, but it’s honestly hard to picture a time before you joined us. From your mentorship of others in your department to your incredible close rate, it’s more than fair to say you’ve transformed the sales department. Congratulations, enjoy the wellness retreat, and here’s to many more years of success together!”
Milestones and work anniversaries are classic opportunities for celebration, so don’t let them go to waste. Completing a lengthy online course, closing that big deal, receiving a sought-after promotion — these and similar events definitely call for some positive feedback. Make sure the way you provide recognition suits the circumstance, as well. Having leadership or a group of teammates provide a meaningful gift or experience will ensure the recipient knows your words are heartfelt.
3. Cheering on a recognition superstar
“You’ve always led the way when it comes to providing genuine recognition to other team members. It’s had a major impact on changing our culture for the better. We appreciate you serving as such a great example, and please keep the appreciation coming!”
Recognition is a virtuous cycle: the more everyone at your company provides, the more they’ll receive in return. That’s why highlighting those employees who frequently provide positive feedback is so important. Other employees will follow their lead, turning recognition into a cornerstone of an exceptional organizational culture.
4. Showing appreciation for employee input
“I’m sure you’ve seen the increased employee engagement metrics over the second half of this year. I don’t think we would have experienced anything close to this without your feedback on how we could start changing our culture and leadership methods for the better. Broaching topics like those can be truly difficult, but you did it anyway, and it’s made a real difference in the daily work lives of all your co-workers, myself included.”
Positive feedback in exchange for useful feedback — what could be more fair than that? Employees who provide input on work-related issues, be they ideas for new products, an innovative way to tackle common tasks, or ways to improve company culture, need to know their feedback is heard and appreciated. Of course, many team members are most comfortable providing input confidentially, and this anonymity should always be respected, so this form of positive feedback should be limited to those employees who exercise their voices using more public channels.
5. Publicly highlighting contributions
“I want to recognize Gillian for receiving the highest average customer satisfaction rating among our entire support team. She’s also made some incredibly useful contributions to our internal knowledge base, helping everyone provide better service to our clients. Cheers, Gillian!”
Speaking of publicity, giving positive feedback is often more impactful when done in a group setting, whether that be a company-wide call, a team meeting, or a post on your company’s employee recognition platform. As long as you’re sure that it won’t rub the employee the wrong way, showing appreciation publicly is an excellent way to boost its effect on both the recipient and others at your organization.
6. Giving an award
“Congrats on being our most recognized employee, Brian! You contribute to our company’s success in so many ways, and your teammates know it. Enjoy the award and the reward points!”
Employee awards can be given for a huge range of reasons, from a standard employee of the month award to recognizing the best mentor or innovator at your company. Whenever a team member receives an award, pitch in with a message of congratulations, and — if your organization has adopted a modern employee rewards platform — pitch in with some reward points to drive home the importance of the occasion.
7. Sending a thank-you note
“Alex, I wanted to express my sincere appreciation for your guidance as I stepped into my new role. Your willingness to take on a coaching role and your consistent positivity made all the difference. I’m looking forward to continuing to learn and collaborate for years to come!”
Sometimes, the simplest gestures mean the most. A personalized message of thanks, whether delivered in person or digitally, will rarely go amiss. It doesn’t need to be especially lengthy or involved, but always take the time to tailor your note for the recipient, so they note the thoughts you’ve expressed are genuine.
8. Encouraging professional development
“All I can say after listening to your latest presentation on how to improve inbound marketing is ‘wow!’ I learned so much, and it’s clear all the courses and seminars you’ve attended over the last couple years have paid off. Your enthusiasm for seeking new knowledge is inspiring! The team and I are lucky to have you.”
Few things are as much of a win-win for both employee and employer as prioritizing professional development. But even the most comprehensive talent development program will struggle to deliver consistent results if those who actively participate in it aren’t recognized for their efforts. When you see another employee take ownership of their professional growth and put their new skills to use, give them a shout out and encourage others to follow suit.
9. Providing a positive performance review
“One of your biggest talents is your ability to build strong relationships with both vendors and clients. Your communication skills and ability to consistently demonstrate your expertise have made a real impact. Keep leveraging these strengths!”
Performance reviews are often a time for constructive criticism, but recommendations for improvements are unlikely to go over well without any acknowledgement of an employee’s strengths and achievements. Don’t hesitate to highlight all the ways the employee has succeeded and grown since their last review.
You should also try to avoid rigidly adhering to the “compliment sandwich” approach — where a piece of criticism is given between two instances of positive feedback. This will come off as artificial, and employees will likely focus on the negative and disregard any compliments. Instead, when constructive criticism is called for, simply provide it naturally and honestly, with recommendations for how you and the company can support improvement on the part of the employee ready to discuss.
10. Recognizing innovation and initiative
“When it comes to identifying a potential problem and tackling it well in advance or thinking of a new way to streamline one of our workflows, you’ve got it covered. Simply put, you’re great at your job. Thank you for being such a valuable part of our team.”
Few organizations would say they discourage innovation and frown on creativity. But how many companies actually make recognizing and rewarding new ideas a priority? Instead of shooting down innovative suggestions or leaving it to the employee to implement their ideas on their own, respond with positive feedback. Even if the employee’s current innovation doesn’t work out, they’ll be far more likely to maintain a creative mindset going forward, and your company will reap the benefits.
11. Praising an efficient employee
“You’ve been one of the most productive members of our department year-in, year-out, Ben. Not only that, you’ve helped other team members put some of your own methods into practice. Please keep doing what you’re doing!”
Efficiency is one of the most valued traits in almost any industry. When a team member exceeds productivity expectations, acknowledge their performance without delay and see if they have recommendations for how to boost efficiency across their team or the company as a whole. After all, it’s difficult to stay motivated and hard-working without encouragement from those around you.
12. Celebrating high customer satisfaction
“I’ve never seen such a positive customer review before! Your focus on getting our clients what they need — and showing empathy while you’re assisting them — is something we can all learn from.”
Businesses don’t last long if they can’t please their customers. While quality products and services are a key part of the equation, employees with exceptional client-facing skills are just as valuable. If you’re aware of a team member who embodies great customer service on a daily basis, go ahead and send some positive feedback their way.
13. Highlighting examples of great leadership
“You’ve been an amazing mentor to me from day one, Denise, and I know I’m not the only one who’s benefited so much from your coaching. You exemplify our company’s values every day, and you make working here engaging and enjoyable.”
Ask anyone with even a little experience in the workforce, and they’ll tell you just how important a good manager is when it comes to job satisfaction and productivity. Leaders who avoid micromanagement, prioritize coaching, and regularly practice transparency are more than deserving of recognition. Whether you’re their peer, supervisor, or direct report, some positive feedback will put a smile on their face.
14. Supporting wellness
“You’re the first manager I’ve ever had who walks the walk when it comes to supporting employee wellness and self-care. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to be encouraged to actually take paid time off and recharge rather than working until I’m burnt out. Let’s keep the wellness train moving full steam ahead!”
Despite all the talk about the importance of wellness, there are still many organizations with cultures that stigmatize employees who actively prioritize their health. That makes those companies and employees who exemplify good wellness habits — whether that takes the form of practicing mindfulness, starting up a work exercise group, or simply taking advantage of their PTO when they need it — all the more valuable. You can start boosting employee wellness at your company with a single message of appreciation.
15. Recognizing a real team player
“You’re really the ultimate team player, Michelle. You make everyone feel included with your collaborative approach to each project you take on. And it’s led to some of the best, most consistent results at our company. Thanks to you, there’s no group here I’d rather be a part of.”
You’ve doubtless felt the difference between working with truly collaborative peers and team members who rarely leave their bubble. It’s much easier — and more enjoyable — to get the job done when you have a team of individuals you trust at your back. Praise employees who demonstrate great teamwork to reinforce the importance of collaboration and foster a supportive work environment where people feel like they really belong.
Deliver positive employee feedback across your company with Achievers
Sending an appreciative email or saying thanks during a team meeting doesn’t take too much effort. But providing positive feedback — and fun rewards — to your co-workers whenever and wherever the urge strikes you? That level of convenience and empowerment requires a market-leading recognition platform.
The Achievers Employee Experience Platform is an easy-to-adopt, science-backed solution that includes everything your organization needs to make positive feedback and recognition a pillar of its culture. It features Achievers Recognize, which lets employees recognize personal and professional wins from the devices and applications they already use every day — and boost the impact of their messages with a best-in-class rewards marketplace. Achievers Listen completes the picture by giving people leaders the ability to collect real-time feedback using an array of polls, forms, and surveys, together with an always-on, AI-driven HR chatbot. It then guides them from insight to action by showing them which aspects of the employee experience are looking strong and which could use some extra attention.
Ready to make giving and understanding feedback easy? Try a free demo of the Achievers Employee Experience Platform today.
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