Positive feedback improves job performance and builds morale, says Bob Milligan, a senior ag-production consultant in Madison, Wis.

Here are some tips to make positive feedback a habit:

  • Become success-minded. Continuously look for actions and results that contribute to your operation’s success, and always provide positive feedback to individuals involved.
  • Practice appreciative inquiry. In other words, ask your employees what is going right, and then use their answers to provide positive feedback.
  • Practice, practice, practice. The more positive feedback you give, the better you will become at it.

There are benefits to providing more positive feedback to workers. Some of these benefits are measurable, some are more subtle. Milligan offers these five reasons why positive feedback is beneficial:

1   It serves as a reward for an outcome or action that contributed to the business’ success. This reinforces the successful performance and will make it more likely to be repeated.

2   Positive feedback gives employees a sense of personal accomplishment. When you recognize achievement, it makes workers feel important to the business.

3   It builds confidence in job performance. An employee not only needs the skills to do his or her job, but also the confidence to perform well every time.

4   Positive feedback holds employees accountable. It clarifies the expected results and promotes commitment to attaining them.

5   Positive feedback improves job satisfaction.

Of course, providing feedback is not always easy to dish out, and in some cases employees even dread it. That’s mostly because of the unknown — will it be positive or negative?

Milligan offers these suggestions for improving employee performance through feedback:

  • Focus on your employee’s performance, not on the person. Don’t make it personal.
  • Provide copious amounts of positive feedback when appropriate. It takes multiple positive comments to offset one negative comment.
  • If performance is below expectations, determine what is needed beyond feedback; you may have to redirect efforts or reassign employees.