The power of positive feedback


Every day, we all receive some kind of feedback in our lives, whether at work or at home. However, the way we receive it can make a big difference. Our success in how we take feedback is often due to our previous experience. If receiving such feedback in the past was painful or humiliating to us, we probably will not take it well. On the other hand, if in the past we have gotten helpful feedback, we tend to be less anxious and less defensive about it.

Feedback is the engine of performance in the workplace. According to research, providing feedback is an effective way to motivate employees to learn and increase the effectiveness of their work. For some tasks, feedback is natural. In baseball, for example, a pitcher receives feedback on his throws by getting information about the strength and distance that the ball travels.

For other tasks, however, it is difficult to judge the accuracy of your behavior without feedback. For example, if you’re working on a project for your supervisor, and they never comment on the quality of the project, it can leave wondering if you meet the company’s expectations. This is why feedback is so crucial, and can have a lasting positive impact on job satisfaction and performance.

One last consideration for feedback concerns the type of feedback given. Research and common sense agree that positive feedback must be given when performing tasks correctly. To be more effective, negative feedback must be given by focusing on behavior and by offering concrete suggestions on how individuals can improve performance.

Due to the importance of feedback in the workplace, the process is likely to have psychological and emotional implications for the person receiving the feedback. There must be a balance between too little and too much feedback. An individual will not learn if there is not enough feedback. However, too much feedback is frustrating, and can even slow down the learning process.

Feedback is constructive when it comes with an aim to promote and reinforce positive behavior. For the feedback to be effective, it has to be given to people who are doing things right, not just when they make mistakes. Here are some tips for effective feedback.

  • Identify the behavior and focus on it, and not on the personality of the person.
  • Explain how the behavior affects others.
  • Ask the person for suggestions about how they can change the behavior.
  • After finding a solution, define a specific goal together.
  • After an agreed period of time, you should meet to see if the goal has been achieved and to set new goals.

The essential question is what to do with the feedback we receive. Some individuals deflect, deny, explain, or otherwise try to protect themselves from the potential effects of the reactions they receive. Your personal goal should be to develop the ability to stay open to feedback, especially if you feel defensive. Being defensive is an indication that you are afraid of learniung something very important about yourself.

A person who has a great deal of experience with this will often seek feedback from supervisors and staff in order to learn from mistakes and make changes.