Motivation and Feedback

Motivation and Feedback 150 150 Sharon Smith

I lied. In the last article, Motivation and Growth, I said that it was the final article in the motivation series. But in fact, this is the last article in the motivation series and also the shortest. To read all the articles in the series go to

Last and definitely not least when it comes to motivating those around you, is feedback and recognition. Do you realize that most people go through their day not getting feedback, praise, or recognition, not even at home or from those they love? Praise and recognition differentiates us from animals; it is something we crave and something that drives us to do more and do better. Feedback, both positive and critical is how we improve and grow.

Let’s first look at praise, recognition, and positive feedback. These are often overlooked because many leaders assume that their employees know when they have done a good job and as such don’t provide what’s actually a big piece of motivation.

This can be for something as small as a quieter employee speaking up at a meeting or a more talkative employee staying quiet while others share, as much as it can be for bigger accomplishments. This can be done in front of others or in private. That is best decided based on the individual and what they prefer. It’s about knowing your people because when you know the people you work with at their deepest level, you know who craves public attention and who prefers a quiet “thank you” or “job well done.”

Constructive critical feedback is also important and all to often saved for that dreaded annual appraisal or evaluation. In these one-time-a-year evaluations, feedback is often limited to what is remembered and often too late in the game to fix problems. If I don’t know that I have offended someone or I don’t know that my approach is not well received, how can I fix it?

Have you ever received feedback that sounds something like “people have been complaining about you for the last few months” or “that email you sent two months ago really ruffled a lot of feathers”? That feedback needs immediate action and you are doing your employees a disservice if you wait too long to provide it. If they are damaging their reputation through their approach they deserve to know it and have the opportunity to fix it as early as possible.

I know you might be thinking that giving critical feedback is difficult or uncomfortable. Yes, it definitely can be, so let me share a technique with you to help. It’s called “the sandwich method.” You start by setting time aside to have the conversation in a place that is private. The conversation starts with the good stuff, what they have done well, what you have enjoyed seeing them accomplish, what you are proud of. The positive feedback, praise, and recognition I was talking about.

Then you transition to what you want them to work on, improve on, and know about. This is the critical feedback that they need if they are going to improve and grow. You ask them for their input, ask them how they feel they can make the changes necessary, and get their buy-in. Then you end the conversation on another positive note, another piece of praise or even bringing up the first item again. You want them to leave the conversation on a positive note.

Remember: people cannot fix what they do not know about, and you are not tapping into their motivations when you don’t allow them to improve. They also crave praise and when you can combine a healthy dose of praise with the right amount of constructive critical feedback you will be known as the leader that everyone wants to work for and your employees will be motivated to do good work for the long run.

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