When you ask an employee to make time for a feedback meeting, their first reaction might be, uh-oh. The word “feedback” can bring up anxieties about negative comments and criticism, but it can be positive too. Positive feedback from a manager to an employee is indeed possible – and necessary. Read on to discover how it creates better relationships and improves your work environment. 

What is employee feedback?

Employee feedback is anything you say to a team member about their performance, skills, and teamwork. It includes positive and constructive feedback – notice that “negative” isn’t a word you see here. The best managers – and team members, for that matter – offer negative feedback to build you up, not tear you down. Feedback of all kinds can help you acknowledge great work, break bad team member habits, and create a more peaceful work environment. 

You can get feedback in two ways. One is through peer feedback, for which you’ll meet with one person to chat about work performance. Another option is 360 degree feedback, which asks several people to give anonymous feedback about one person. You might still deliver it one-on-one, but what you say will come from more than inside your head. You’ll also use the answers to all the employee performance questions you had everyone ask to give feedback.

Give and get feedback as work happens

Research shows that employees who receive consistent feedback feel more fulfilled in their jobs. With Fellow, you can incorporate feedback into your team’s day-to-day experience and track progress over time.

10 examples of positive feedback to give an employee

Positive feedback is best when it’s brief but genuine. You’re best off tailoring your feedback to a handful of situations. Here’s a list of 10 occasions for giving positive feedback and some examples of what you can say. 

1A team member demonstrates a core value

A core value is a principle that guides your organization – there are probably a bunch of them in your mission statement. When an employee demonstrates a core value – say, sustainability – you could respond with the following. 

“I loved your idea for creating more affordable, sustainable packaging from yesterday’s meeting. You’ve truly gone above and beyond at sticking to our core values while making things better for our customers.” 

2A team member does more work than necessary

Maybe one of your team members has done all their work for the week and then does more instead of going home. That’s awesome! To show this person that you notice their extra efforts, you could say: 

“Hey, Tracy! Thank you so much for putting in the extra time and effort to help everyone plan out next week’s event. The team loved all your ideas. In the future, I would love to run a few event ideas by you to get your thoughts.” 

3A team member communicates well

For your organization to be successful, you need team members with strong communication skills. Praising your team when they keep you and your clients in the loop can inspire them to keep on rocking it. For example, you could say:

“Thank you for emailing me immediately when you ran into that issue with your project this week. Because you let me know so clearly and in such a timely manner, we solved the problem and got the client what they needed. Nicely done!” 

4A team member does great work

Let’s say one of your team members did all their work on time and didn’t forget a single detail. To commend their outstanding work, you could say: 

“You did a wonderful job on this proposal. It’s clear that you take pride in your work and spend time ensuring all the details are there. I can’t wait to see your next one.” 

5An employee goes out of their way for a teammate

You should always recognize someone who goes out of their way to help. That’s true whether the person helping – or being helped – is a new hire, an intern, or a longtime team member. Here’s how you can give someone positive feedback for helping someone else: 

“I really appreciate that you’ll stop what you’re doing to spend time helping your teammates. It was great to see you showing Martha how to work with our accounting software on her first day when her manager wasn’t around. That team-player quality means a lot to us.” 

6A team member reaches their goals

You’ve set high standards for your team, and lo and behold, someone has met their goal! That’s always a cause for celebration. Here’s how you should praise this hard work: 

“You’ve exceeded your yearly goal before we’ve even hit December – wow! Congratulations. You should be proud – we sure are. If you don’t mind, I’d love to post about this on Facebook to show everyone how hard our team works.” 

7A team member has perfect attendance 

Not all positive feedback from a manager to an employee needs to be about a tiny miracle. Something as small as perfect attendance is a great opportunity – in fact, an excellent attendance record is hard to come by. You could say:

“Seeing you show up literally every day is remarkable. We love how dedicated you are to your work! Thank you for bringing a great attitude and work ethic for everything you do.” 

8A team member excels in customer service 

Customers are the key to earning money and staying afloat, and keeping them happy is a key part of your job. So if you notice a team member providing excellent customer service, you should definitely mention it. You could say: 

“I’ve received a few compliments and reviews from customers about how helpful you’ve been. Your genuine personality and kind voice are exactly what allows us to succeed.” 

9A team member works well with others 

Not everyone on your team will have matching personalities – some might clash a bit. That said, pairing team members with opposite personalities is a good way to see how well they can collaborate. When they do work well together, here’s what you can say:

“I’ve noticed that you make a good effort to get to know everyone in the office regardless of their personality. That’s a strength that sets you apart from others – not everyone is so open-minded. Great job!” 

10A team member chooses to work overtime

It’s always important to recognize team members who spend extra time working beyond their usual hours. Some positive feedback you could say is:

“I appreciate you working overtime this week to get ready for our event this weekend. I know it may not be the most fun way to spend a Friday night, but seriously – thank you for doing it. I promise your work ethic and positive attitude aren’t going unnoticed.”

The different types of feedback

Positive feedback is universally good – but other than that, it’s not a monolith. It actually includes three different types of employee feedback. Here’s what you need to know about each type.

  • Appreciation

This type of feedback involves praising and rewarding employees for good work. Don’t skimp on it! It’s how you motivate your team members to keep doing better and working harder. Lucky for you, it’s often the easiest kind of feedback to deliver.

  • Coaching

Coaching feedback involves helping a team member expand their knowledge and improve their work skills. When you give coaching feedback, you also open the door for team members to share how they’re feeling. That’s a great place to start building a better relationship with your team. 

  • Evaluation

Evaluations are typically the most nerve-wracking – they’re the formal, sit-down ones that often include feedback from a bunch of people. These performance reviews typically occur a few times each year and discuss where someone stands in your position and how they can improve their skills in the future. 

Benefits of giving feedback to employees

Sharing feedback can help improve your team dynamic in all kinds of ways. Here are some reasons why regular feedback makes for a better team. 

Helps team members do better work 

Without feedback, chances are most team members won’t know whether they’re doing the right thing. Once you shed light on how they’re doing, they can see themselves in an entirely new way. Providing both positive and negative feedback allows team members to see where they’re doing great and where they need to improve. 

Develops great relationships

The more you share feedback with your team members, the more they’ll feel comfortable communicating with you. This open communication will make it easier for them to ask questions and solve problems.

“Focus on building a feedback-first culture, where it’s normal and encouraged to regularly share constructive and positive feedback,” says Phil Jacobson, VP Product & Operations at #paid.  “With this foundation, your team will feel comfortable voicing problems proactively.”

Boosts productivity and engagement

Regular feedback can be a huge motivator, but most employees feel underappreciated and unrecognized – and that can make them unproductive and unengaged. A 2022 Achievers report found that 52 percent of all employees feel committed to their roles. However, only 20 percent of respondents said they felt engaged at work. When you give feedback, you let your team know you see them, which can boost employee productivity and employee engagement. 

Makes employees feel appreciated 

No one wants to go to work day in and day out without being recognized for everything they’re doing. That means it’s on you to show everyone they’re valued – and feedback is a great way to do that. Whether you hold one-on-one meetings with your team members or just casually swing by their desks (or send Slack messages), it’s the attention that counts. 

Tips on how to deliver positive feedback

Your emotions can start flying when it’s time to give feedback. Maybe you’re nervous about providing negative feedback, or maybe you’re stoked to share some great news with someone. On the latter front, you’ll find some extra tips below. 

1Be clear and specific

When you give feedback, you should leave no questions about what you’re saying. Say exactly what the person is doing well and what you love about their work. Positive feedback and affirmation this clear and specific can make any employee feel appreciated and valued. 

2Make it timely 

You shouldn’t wait for your quarterly performance reviews to give positive feedback. Instead, celebrate great things when they happen – that’ll feel more powerful than giving your compliments months after the fact. If someone on your team had an outstanding product idea that’s moving lots of units, you should acknowledge them when that happens. If you wait to praise this team member, your feedback just won’t have the same effect. 

3Praise team members visibly instead of in private

When a team member goes above and beyond and does a good job, you should let others know unless they wish otherwise. Showing that you recognize someone’s hard work – and showing what you’re complimenting – can show everyone what you look for and motivate them to get there. And, of course, it keeps the person you’re praising excited to do the most and the best. A big note here, though: If you’re giving negative feedback instead, always keep it private. 

4Don’t overdo it 

Give praise when it’s deserved, but not more than that. When you give positive feedback only when team members earn it, your kind words remain special and genuine. The more you give praise, the less meaningful it starts to feel. Over time, it might start coming off as insincere. 

5Explain how their work impacts your organization 

When you give positive feedback, you should explain both what the person did well and how their great work has made things better. For example, you can explain that their social media posts are driving engagement like never before. Pairing praise and impact can motivate just about anyone – they’ll know why the work they’re doing matters. 

6Give everyone positive feedback 

Yes, your team members have to earn your praise, but you shouldn’t dangle compliments like a carrot. Surely, everyone is doing something well – and this deep into this article, you probably understand why it’s important that everyone feels important and recognized. At some point, you should recognize each team member – but only when they genuinely deserve it. 

Free feedback meeting agenda templates

Implement proper feedback and recognition with Fellow 

Recognizing your team members’ work through positive feedback can help teams thrive. To best give this feedback, you’ll need a tool that lets you schedule feedback meetings and share feedback in the first place. With Fellow, you can request peer feedback and 360 feedback – and create collaborative agendas and notes for your feedback meetings. Now, you can tell your team members exactly what they’re doing right all from one place.