I started listening to these podcasts about a month ago and I just love it! Today I figured out that there are forums as well. This is even more awesome! I read in some of the other posts on feedback that most people give about 10:1 positive:negative feedback. Can some of you share the types of positive feedback that you usually give? Thanks!

This page gets a lot of traffic about positive feedback. If you want to know how we recommend you do it, and what it sounds like click here

LouFlorence's picture
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10:1 is an ideal. I shoot for 5:1 and probably hit 2:1 consistently, so I have a long ways to go.

I hope you've listened to the feedback casts. They're indispensible.

I distinguish between praise (a nice, general comment for an individual or group) and feedback. People generally like praise. They love feedback. Feedback is personal and detailed; it lets them know how they made a difference.

Probably the most common positive feedback I give is when someone completes a task as requested and on time. It's a good opportunity to point out the positive effect of what they have done and encourage them to keep doing it. Simple (though not always easy).


MattJBeckwith's picture
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Bragot, welcome to the forums.

Take the approach that way more good stuff happens then bad (or you'd fire your entire organization every day) and you'll see opportunities all around you.

The purpose of giving feedback is to encourage effective behavior. So, look for anything you want repeated.

... when you answer the phone on the first ring with a cheerful greeting...
... when you praise your peers for a good job...
... when you completed that task on time...

They're out there. It may seem odd to give it at all the little things... but do it anyway. Shoot for the 5:1, you'll see it's not that hard.

At the April conference, Mike S. said he used poker chips (or something similar) from one pocket to the other to monitor his affirming feedback. Brilliant.

mikehansen's picture

I learned a trick at the MT conference that has already helped me give more affirming feedback (from Mike S, who added a ton of great insight to the meeting).

Put 5 poker chips into your left pocket at the start of the day. Each time you give FB, move a chip to the right pocket. Doing this keeps it in the forefront of your mind. Prior to this I had also struggled with finding items to give FB on. I tried this for the first time yesterday, and gave FB 6 times! Here are the examples (as I can recall):

“Can I give you some feedback?”….

“When you take care of that issue that XXX e-mailed to me, it takes the monkey off my back and reduces my stress. Thanks for doing that.”

“When you work with XXX to get that requirement nailed down, it keeps things running smoothly and helps the project get done on time. Great job!”

“From you said in that meeting, it was clear that you had a good grasp of YYY. You really helped that meeting be productive. I just wanted to let you know that.”

“When you proactively reach out to XXX to get them to help resolve that issue, you really save our butts because otherwise it would have taken another 2 hours. Great job.”

“From what you contributed in that meeting, it was clear that you have done a lot of research on this topic and you really know your stuff. Well done.”

I am spacing on the 6th one, but you get the gist. These were 100% sincere observations of good stuff the team does every day, I just got better at noticing….

Hope that helps,

Dani Martin's picture
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I loved the poker chip in the pocket idea as well. My DR's who attended the DC conference shared it with me. Women's clothing doesn't consistently have pockets, though, the way men's does. And the pockets tend to be less deep. And frankly, I wasn't really excited about adding to my hip area bulk. :wink:

I was sharing this with Mark one day and he suggested bracelets. I wear two bracelets on my right wrist. My goal for the day is 5 feedbacks. By the end of the day I should have moved one twice and one three times ending up with one on each wrist. I've been doing it for about 3 weeks now and it's really helping me. I've only actually hit 5 once, but I'm averaging 3 a day. A huge improvement for me!

PS -- The bracelets I use are actually used by my organization as a fundraiser. It's a flexible, material covered cord with a smooth metal piece in the middle inscribed with the word "hope." They come in 5 different colors and are great for men and women.

douglase's picture

I don't believe that there is a hard and fast rule for how much positive feedback you should give. I have a slightly different view on the bucket word feedback that is explained in this post.

one of the basic premises is that feedback can be split into three categories. Appreciation (ie positive), Coaching, and Evaluation. Many organisations have a triangle with a setup like the below (hope this works)
..../\ appreciation
../....\ coaching
/........\ evaluation

where as you will find it better to have it reversed and like this.

..../\ evaluation
../....\ coaching
/........\ appreciation

So rather than having a culture based on you have done this wrong and here are the consequences.. you have a culture based on rewarding and recognising (and reinforcing) positive behaviours.


Mark's picture
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We couldn't DISagree more strongly, but glad you posted nonetheless. Diversity is wonderful!


JohnGMacAskill's picture
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Hi Bragot, welcome to the forum.

One thing I have learned is that you are attuned to 'reasons for corrective feedback'. It is what you pick up. You have to work at noticing opportunities for positive or re-enforcing feedback; you just miss it!

I also use the poker chip idea from the DC conference. It is a continual reminder that you need to provide positive feedback. Lets face it, unless you are in an awful team, you will have more opportunity for positive feedback than negative.

Enjoy the podcasts and forum.

terrih's picture

I would like to see some more answers to the original question for this thread, which was
[quote]Can some of you share the types of positive feedback that you usually give? [/quote]
It's true that we are acculturated to watch for the negative things. In my experience, the way to counter such acculturation is to have lots of exposure to the better way.

In short, examples! Those of you who have given affirming feedback in the last few days, what did you say? Exact quotations to the best of your ability would help me immensely. What should I be watching FOR?


WillDuke's picture
Training Badge

Check their job description. Are they doing some of it?

When you finish your report on time...
When you report back to me...
When you come to work on time...
When you help your coworkers...
When you communicate status to clients...
When you wrap up a project on time...

Does that help?

rthibode's picture

I think it's important to give feedback on topics appropriate to the individual employee's skills and development needs.

I often focus my positive feedback on things that the employee has improved. For example, if they've been chronically late and I've given them adjusting feedback and they arrive on time, I'll say

"Hey Matt, can I give you some feedback? When you arrive at a meeting on time it lets me focus on the material and not worry about catching you up later. Thanks for that!"

For someone who is always on time, I don't comment on that each time I see it. I personally would find it insulting if my boss gave me positive feedback on something so obvious and taken-for-granted. However, at an annual review meeting I will make a point of giving positive feedback on it, something like:

"Jodi, you've really impressed me in being consistently on time for meetings, training, and just day to day. I may not mention it all the time, but I want to let you know that it is noticed, and it's important to me and very much appreciated. Thanks!"

juliahhavener's picture
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For those who are consistent in a particular area, I mention it during their O3 quarterly or so - I want them to know I KNOW. I give them daily feedback on various things - timeliness, follow through, handling issues I ask them to, making changes I've requested, any number of things.

For those who are being coached in a specific area or item, I tailor some of their feedback to those things. One employee is using three specific scripts to respond to specific things (he doesn't do this well naturally, so we're practicing with the scripts) - if I happen to hear one of those three scripts it's "Mark, can I give you some feedback? When I hear you use the scripts we've developed in the appropriate manner, I know you're putting your customer first and working to implement the changes needed to do so. Keep it up!" The rest of their feedback goes to the every day items that they *do* do well - so they know that I'm not just seeing the area I've asked for change in.

lbongaer's picture

Bragot, Mark, Mike, all,

This is a question I was wondering about long ago already: how to give credible positive feedback, especially in a European/Belgian context with highly-skilled professionals. Here in Belgium (like at many places, but here for instance less than in the Netherlands), there is no culture of providing positive feedback - or any feedback at all. So, I try to focus on positive feedback for each person that is targetted at what he or she considers relevant for himself - to avoid the trivialities. The good thing is that the people I work with really appreciate that kind of feedback. The bad thing is that 1) providing positive feedback is not that trivial, 2) I find it hard to come to a factor 10 to 1 for positive feedback, and 3) I guess I miss out on a lot of potentials.

Therefore, I am trying to improve my positive feedback behavior, and I try to define a number of categories: 
A) directly work related - what is in their job description.
B) additional professional initiatives - additional input they provide, projects they support, initiate, kickoff, delegation they are asking for...
C) communication: internal networking, presentations, interjections in meetings, or general behavior in meetings, ...
D) Practical: coming on time on meetings, cleaning up the office space, taking over from colleagues during their holidays, taking care of tasks that fall between the cracks.
E) Ethical: doing the right thing, helping colleagues, stopping badmouthing or gossip.
F) Self-growth: efforts people do to develop themselves and their colleagues.
G) Company growth: efforts, work, insight that will help the company or our team to do better now or in the future.

I hope this will help me (and you) to give more positive feedback.

Best regards, Luc


Mark's picture
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And, there's no difference between human beings in Belgium and human beings in the US or UK or Russia or Iran.

Even "trivial" positive feedback is appreciated.

ashdenver's picture

Here's a question which may have already been addressed in the podcast (it's been ages since I've had bandwidth to review them) but ...

<cite>Put 5 poker chips into your left pocket at the start of the day. Each time you give FB, move a chip to the right pocket. Doing this keeps it in the forefront of your mind.</cite>

I have 7 DR's - should I have seven different colors of chips and carry a total of 5 chips to ensure I'm giving each person their 5:1 ratio?  Or is it just a general "give five positives to anyone at random"?

My worry would be that I'd end up giving Sally, Steve, Tom, Dave, and Jill a positive on Monday, I might hit Julie with a negative right off the bat.  And I'd be worried that Julie would end up getting a higher ratio of negative (given her performance and/or skill level) if I'm not focusing on a per-individual basis. 

Mark's picture
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Never thought of it that way, and can see your point.  Just one color chip. The 5 chip rule was just to get one started...not to manage the distribution.  Since we intended that for a manager just starting, we saw ALL of that feedback as positive.  I wouldn't be thinking of giving negative at that point.  If it's all positive, the Jule scenario doesn't happen.

As you get more comfortable, it will get easier for you to anecdotally sense how you've been distributing.

mikehansen's picture

Since I attended the MT conference and posted on this thread.  Now I am in a new gig and I am just getting ready to start FB with my directs.  I have been doing O3s for a few months now.  I am planning on introducing the FB model in my O3s tomorrow (I currently do not have a regular team meeting - long story).

When embarking on FB with a new group, what are the thoughts on creating a list per direct of things to look out for?  Would that help you observe positive behaviors and deliver more/better FB?  I was getting ready to do just this when I saw the recent posts on this thread and decided to ask the MT Masses.

I do not expect to need it long term, but figured it might be a good idea when starting FB with the new team.

If anyone has done this, I would be curious as to your take on how it worked.  Otherwise, I will keep you posted if I find it useful.



irene's picture

wow. this forum is so interesting! i work in volunteer coordination, and remember the ratio of 10:1 positive feedback (higher when it is a new and difficult task) but i was wondering if anyone knows what that study was? It would be helpful for me to be able to cite my reasons for suggesting changes to they way that volunteers are interacted with.



Thomas05's picture

Hi Luc,

I really liked the Idea of Categories.
Currently I´m preparing the start of regular positive Feedback within my Team and am preparing a list to increase the Example repertory to pull from.

The Categories do really help.