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Positive Feedback

When your employees do good work, they want it to be recognized. So let them know that you notice their hard work and thank them for it.

Make sure, however, that you only praise work that is deserving of praise. People can tell if you are being sincere or not, so keep it honest. If you offer praise simply because it's “someone’s turn,” it becomes meaningless. Praise should be linked to specific accomplishments or efforts. Praise, such as, “Keep up the great work, you are a real asset to the company,” is far too vague to have any real meaning.

Be specific when you praise or thank someone. For example: “John, that report that you handed in early really made us look good to the client. Thanks for the extra effort. Everyone involved really appreciated it.”

Negative Feedback

When possible, negative feedback should be given to employees in private. This is especially true when you need to reprimand an employee. Embarrassing them in front of their peers will only get their backs up and close their minds. They may correct their behaviour to avoid a repeated incident, but it's unlikely they will come to you for help in the future.

Attacking your employees in public will eventually lead to passive compliance, meaning your employees will do exactly what you tell them to, but no more. In other words, they stop thinking for themselves and start to behave like robots.

Always criticize the behaviour and never the person. It’s a fine line, but an important one. People are much more receptive to negative feedback concerning their work when it's made clear the feedback is not directed toward them as people.

For example, “Bob, I know your intentions are good, but this is the third time this week your report has been late. What do you think the problem is and how can we solve it?”

Bob may not be happy to hear your negative comments, but he’ll be much more receptive to them than if they were directed toward him as a person.

There are certain forms of negative feedback that are better distributed by a human resources department, especially types that are “confidential” or “privileged.” When in doubt, keep it private.

“You have to be consistent, fair, and encouraging with your people. They need a ‘thank you’ now and then.”

- Lonear Heard-Davis, President of Mcdonald's franchisee Heard Management Corp.