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Are You Fluent in Positive Feedback?

We all know that giving critical feedback is tough but needed to grow. So, it seems common sense that positive feedback would be easier and more widely given, right? Unfortunately, that is not always the case. According to Harvard Business Review, managers are less likely to provide positive feedback than negative feedback to their employees. In fact, only 1 in 3 employees recall receiving positive feedback or recognition in the last week.

What’s causing this hesitation with using compliments and praise to reward a job well done? The tricky thing about compliments is that they are more of an art and less of a science. People know when a compliment is voiced insincerely, resulting in the compliment falling flat or, worse, beginning a cycle of inauthenticity.

Why Recognition Matters:


Compliments and other methods of showing appreciation have considerable benefits both for the giver and receiver. Let’s talk about the obvious: getting a compliment just plain feels good. After hearing another manger introduce you as a rock-star to others, you’re riding that confidence boost the rest of the day. But what are the tangibles that happen as a result of receiving praise?

Social support, like that from your colleagues, is  just as good at predicting lifespan as typical health markers such as high blood pressure and regular exercise. How powerful is that? Compliments affect your health. Think about that next time your debating if you should tell that stranger in the elevator that their shoes are killer. Complimenting them could help them live longer!

Showing support isn’t just about physical benefits; it also impacts outcomes at the organizational level. Project Oxygen, Google’s analytics-based manager assessment, identifies key behaviors of good managers in the organization. The top three skills of their best performing managers are: “Creates an inclusive team environment, shows concern for success and shows concern for well-being.” Specific behaviors tied with this skill are 1) showing consideration for the employee and, 2) valuing the perspective an employee brings to the team, even if it’s different. In other words, good managers give meaningful recognition to their employees.

Expressing gratitude towards others shapes the relationship you have with them. When employees receive a compliment, they are more likely to go out of their way to help others. Giving a compliment acts like paying it forward. It creates a positive feedback loop where the outcomes benefit everyone.

How to Recognize Your Team    


Adopt an appreciation playbook. You’ve heard of sales and coaching playbooks, but some organizations have begun adopting appreciation playbooks. Nationwide uses a “Happiness Playbook” that details out 60+ positive actions employees can engage in every day. These tips range from “sending three positive emails a week” to ideas on how you can go above and beyond to recognize your co-worker.

Build a brag board. Increase the visibility of employee recognition by having them displayed to the entire organization on a bulletin board. If traditional cork boards and tack are not your style, why not make it virtual? Try out a recognition platform like Bonusly or WooBoard.

Practice self-appreciation. Open appreciation of others can be difficult for many. It can be awkward, and the last thing you want is for it to come off as contrived. Start by getting into the habit of recognizing your own efforts. At the end of each day ask yourself, “What can I feel proud of today?” Practicing this will make the act of complimenting feel more natural, and you’ll be more likely to recognize the people on your team.

Looking for more ways to enhance your company culture? We can help.

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