The Importance of Positive Feedback in the Workplace: with Examples!

Marsha Hebert, professional resume writer
The Importance of Positive Feedback in the Workplace: with Examples!

The Importance of Positive Feedback in the Workplace: with Examples!

Confidence, value, and motivation are what you instill into your employees when you give positive feedback, improving productivity and performance.

Albert Einstein said, “All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded to the individual.” While criticism is important for stewarding employees’ success, positivity inspires staff members to want to do better. The importance of positive feedback in the workplace cannot be understated.

As a manager, it may feel awkward to provide feedback, both positive and negative, to your staff members. You may even have to brush up on your own confidence skills before you can deliver any meaningful feedback to your staff members.

What is positive feedback?

It's easy to give the occasional pat on the back or “great job,” but meaningful feedback should go beyond those gestures. As a leader, it is your duty to provide constructive feedback if you want your staff to perform better, improve efficiency, or work together more cohesively.

Not only will your constructive feedback let the employee know what they're doing well and what they need to improve, but you will also start to build trusting relationships with your subordinates. Your staff will respect you for taking the time to provide positive feedback rather than always telling them what they're doing wrong.

Create a culture of excellence

Using positive feedback makes your staff members feel appreciated, but it also allows them to feel engaged in operational processes. This engagement turns into an investment in the operational success of the business. When employees are properly motivated through positive feedback, they also find it easier to accept criticism, ultimately allowing them to learn and grow within the organization.

The Harvard Business Review suggests that the ideal praise-to-criticism ratio should be 5: 1. Which means for every piece of negative feedback you provide your staff, you should share five praises. If you walk into a work environment with the goal of turning around an underperforming team, the research further suggests that you must deliver three times the amount of praise.

Are there different types of positive feedback for employees?

Yes! Aside from formal and informal positive feedback – think of performance reviews – here are some additional examples of positive feedback:

  • Intrinsic feedback: This type of feedback doesn’t require much from you because the employee will be able to see the results of their actions immediately. The easiest example of this is that your staff member can tell if they’re doing a good job with customer satisfaction by observing the smiles on clients’ faces.

  • Feedback on results: This sounds so simple. Someone did something that caused a great thing to happen. When you use this as a form of feedback, you’re relaying positive feedback on results. It’s a great way to encourage employees to continue to be achievers.

  • Feedback for performance: Again, this one seems to be self-explanatory. The bottom line is that you call out something a person did that doesn’t necessarily speak to end results. For example, if your employee makes extra copies of a white sheet to hand out at a meeting after appearing at a previous meeting with less-than-enough copies, you can praise them for correcting that problem.

  • Positive criticism: This is the ability to find a silver cloud in grey skies. No one is bad at everything they do. So, you draw attention to something they do well and pair it with an issue they have as a way to let them know you recognize their strengths and weaknesses. This is best evidenced through project management. There are always deadlines, but some people lack good time management skills. However, everything they do is done perfectly. You’d deliver your feedback by focusing on how you appreciate the level of precision they display at finalizing work and offer to work with them on setting better goals to meet the deadlines.

  • Constructive criticism: It may feel like this isn’t a form of positive feedback, but it is. Constructive criticism allows you to give specific feedback with positive overtones in an attempt to improve your staff’s skills.

10  Positive feedback examples

Now that you understand how important positive feedback is to your team, what does positive feedback look like? How do you recognize an event or situation that deserves positive feedback? Here are some examples of when positive feedback would be appropriate:

Understanding positive feedback best practices doesn't help if you don't have the right words. That's not to say you should have stock language for every achievement that you can think of, you should customize what you say to each staff member based on the situation at hand.

Without further ado, here are some positive feedback examples for employees. Use these as inspiration to tailor the feedback you provide your staff members.

1. Achieved a goal

Reaching a goal isn't always the easiest thing. Recognizing someone's efforts can be the difference between the employee continuing to achieve goals or becoming less engaged in their work.

  • “I know that we set stringent goals for you guys to reach. It's really impressive how you managed the workflows each day to persevere. I'm glad to have someone of your integrity on my team.”

  • “I didn't think it was possible for anyone to exceed that sales goal. You proved me wrong by bringing in an additional 10% of revenue above that goal. I admire your dedication and see great things for your future.”

  • “Over the past six months, you have grown in this position. Not only have you successfully achieved every goal put in front of you, but you have inspired your colleagues to do well too. Thank you for helping me build a peak-performing team.”

2. Learned a new skill

It takes ambition and dedication to learn a new skill. Often employees take it upon themselves to dive into new coursework or online learnings to better prepare themselves for doing something at work. When you recognize this accomplishment, you validate their efforts and encourage them to continue learning new skills.

  • “Learning and professional development are one of the cornerstones of our organization. It's great that you took the time to learn how to use pivot tables in Excel. I appreciate your enthusiasm and admire how you are becoming a positive role model for your colleagues.”

  • “You learned that new skill very quickly! I am duly impressed that you went the extra mile to enhance your professional development. Please let me know if there's something else you want to learn that will help you on your career path in this company. I will gladly provide guidance.”

3. Became a customer favorite

Every business needs loyal customers to succeed. You may find that one of your staff members goes above and beyond to make clients happy. That employee often has customers who requested them specifically. While having a customer choose them above everyone else is certainly something that will make that employee happy, getting positive feedback from you will reinforce how important client satisfaction is to the company.

  • “The customer you worked with yesterday called to let me know that they couldn't have figured out the solution to their problem without your assistance. You are calm resolve helped them maintain a level of patience despite the complexity they were facing. I could not be prouder to have you on my team.”

  • “I know we've had quite a few customers who are having problems navigating our new systems. Your efforts to walk them through the changes are not going unnoticed. I would like to thank you for your dedication to these change initiatives and for setting a positive example to our clients.”

4. Exhibited leadership skills

A great leader can emerge from anywhere. He or she doesn't have to have the title of manager. You may notice a staff member who always works with others to improve their colleagues’ skills or help them understand a complicated process.

  • “Your ability to lead the team through that project was impressive. I know there were some pretty complicated procedures and some tough deadlines. I'd like to request that you lead our next big project.”

  • “Our team seems to enjoy working with you as a leader. I've noticed increased participation and improved engagement from the staff with you at the helm. I'm excited to see how your leadership skills progress.”

5. Resolved a conflict

Some people thrive on conflict while others employ empathy and intuition to resolve conflicts. When you recognize the tenacity of the person who solves problems, you set an example for those who create issues. Additionally, you reinforce the idea that the person who solves conflicts should continue to do so.

  • “You did very well in identifying the differences between two individuals with varied ideas on how things should get done. It's unique to find someone who can listen objectively and find win-win solutions. Thank you for being a great team player.”

  • “I understand that you and another team member had a conflict. The tact and professionalism that you exhibited to resolve the issue are very commendable. By leaving emotion out of it, you proved just how good a leader you will make. Keep up the good work!”

6. Assisted a colleague

The goal of every manager should be to build a team that works well together. Strong team morale improves productivity and employee happiness. Happy employees help each other to succeed. If you have a staff member who takes the time to help out a colleague, that should be recognized.

  • “I know that deadline would have been missed if you hadn't stepped in to help your co-worker get out of the weeds. The support you provided was invaluable. Thank you for carving out extra time to work with her.”

  • “The new perspective that you provided your co-worker allowed him to move past a problem that he had gotten stuck on. I cannot express enough how invaluable your help has been.”

7. Simplified a process

Successful teams thrive on efficiency. Taking a difficult or tedious process and simplifying it helps team members avoid burnout. Also, making processes easier saves the company money through reduced labor hours. When your employee finds a procedure that can be done more simply, take a moment to let them know you appreciate those efforts.

  • “I've been doing this job for 7 years, and you were the first person to suggest we combine task one with task two. It's amazing how something so simple can save so much time. I hope that you continue to feel comfortable enough to express change initiatives. They are greatly appreciated.”

  • “Great leaders strive to make things better for their team. You are on your way to being one of those greats! The change you suggested for reconciling invoices has not only made the process faster but it's also reduced the number of errors. People like you make businesses successful. Great job!”

8. Overcame a challenge

It has been said that people either persevere or fold in the face of a challenge. Going above and beyond to ensure the success of a project or achieve a milestone against adversity is a highly respectable trait. Employees who exhibit this type of stick-to-it attitude should receive praise from their leader.

  • “I know many of your colleagues walked away when that challenge appeared. You stuck it out and figured out how to get past it. It takes great patience and even a bit of foresight to persevere when the going gets tough. Thank you for your hard work, it made all the difference in the world for getting that project done.”

  • “Thank you for addressing that last challenge with me directly. I know it wasn't easy to walk through my door and tell me about that problem. Because it was caught early on and since I knew it existed, I could solve it with no lasting impact. Without you shouldering the responsibility of advising me, the situation could have been a lot worse. I appreciate your help with not only finding it but letting me know about it. You probably saved the company thousands of dollars.”

9. Managed change

One thing that never changes is change. Businesses must keep up with the times; emerging technologies change how things are done and new management changes operating procedures. The bottom line is that change can come from anywhere. Those go-with-the-flow staff members who embrace change not only make your job as a leader easier but also encourage acceptance of the change from the people around them.

  • “Many people were not thrilled about moving to this new office. Thank you for approaching this major change with a sense of urgency and positivity. You inspired your colleagues to accept the new environment. Some staff members who staunchly objected to the move are now happy about it.”

  • “The morale of our team has improved because of your ability to handle new management changes with calmness and professionalism. Your colleagues adopted your line of thinking to accept the changes. Thank you for being a positive role model and emulating positivity.”

10. Recommended process improvements

Great leaders empower their employees to think outside the box or challenge the status quo to allow for operational transformation. In fact, one of the things that kills a business is stagnation. When your employee comes up with a great new way of doing daily tasks, their efforts can impact the organization as a whole. That type of initiative deserves recognition.

  • “The company adopted your idea of having a safety ambassador on every shift. Since the inception of that idea, we have had zero reportable incidents. I like to encourage you to continue to express those types of ideas that can improve our entire business. Thank you for the excellent work.”

  • “The work you put in working with the IT department to fine-tune the steps needed for the new system to automate reconciling invoices was fantastic. The people in the IT department enjoyed collaborating with you. They couldn't stop speaking about how easily you made things for them. Plus, your adjustments called attention to how other departments could rework their reporting processes. You championed a company-wide reporting automation movement.”

What are some tips on giving positive feedback? 

Again, providing an employee positive feedback goes beyond simply saying, “Good job.” Here are five tips for giving feedback you give your staff member will be well received.

  1. Be specific: your employee needs to know exactly what they're doing right. There is no need to fluff up your positive feedback as your original message may be lost. Tell them exactly what they did right and why they should continue to do it.

  2. Give feedback as soon as possible: if you wait too long to provide positive feedback, the staff member may become resentful, thinking that their efforts aren't being noticed.

  3. Tell the employee how their good work impacts the business: when staff members know how their role affects the company, they don't feel like a cog in the machine. Allowing them to see their individual impact on the operation as a whole will increase their engagement in their job.

  4. Give positive feedback in front of othersside note: never give negative feedback in front of others: you want your positive feedback to be public so that the employee’s confidence will improve. Additionally, if the team knows that an individual has received positive feedback, they will strive to get that from you too. On top of that, the employee that received the positive feedback may now be able to help other staff members because the other people on the team will know that the employee who received the positive feedback knows what they're doing.

  5. Avoid overusing positive feedback: when you constantly praise someone for minor accomplishments, positive feedback for major milestones won't mean as much.

What else do you need to know about positive feedback?

One of the main goals of any effective leader should be to promote the continuous development of their staff members. It's actually the fourth step in the 5 Levels of Leadership. Providing positive feedback encourages employees to continue to do their best work. It also lets them know what they should do daily. If you use positive feedback correctly, you will be directly responsible for the growth of your employees’ careers.

Practice makes perfect

Some people may be natural orators who can walk up to someone and instantly know how to deliver positive feedback. If you're not one of those people, that's okay. Delivering effective positive feedback is a skill that you can tweak. In the end, it's all about recognizing the abilities of others and employing good communication skills to shine a light of positivity on your team.


You can certainly gain a lot from your staff members through the use of positive feedback. Unlike its counterpart, negative feedback, you're not only letting your employees know what's important through the delivery of positive feedback, but you are also inspiring them to want to do better.

You may be improving your employees’ careers through the use of positive feedback, but don’t neglect your own career development in the process. ZipJob has a ton of career development advice from experts that can help you get ahead. 

Further reading:

Marsha Hebert, professional resume writer

Written by

Marsha Hebert, Professional Resume Writer

Marsha is a resume writer with a strong background in marketing and writing. After completing a Business Marketing degree, she discovered that she could combine her passion for writing with a natural talent for marketing. For more than 10 years, Marsha has helped companies and individuals market themselves. Read more advice from Marsha on ZipJob's blog.

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