Though in some of our blogs we have pointed out the negative experiences we have had, the truth is that most employees are good people, most of their work is done in an acceptable fashion, and generally the employees who last for more than a few months have done their jobs well. We recognize this and the importance of providing positive feedback. These can range from praise for a job well done, to giving rewards, bonuses, raises, or promotions. Employers must provide such feedback and rewards. Good employees are hard to find and they need to feel the love. This is important for morale and retention. It should be obvious, but probably most people have worked for people who did not provide such feedback. Additionally, providing such feedback can be done in such a way as to provide a teaching moment to demonstrate good performance to other employees and encourage them to learn from their co-workers. It feels good to be able to praise someone for a job well done. And, employees should reinforce employers’ actions in this regard by showing their appreciation that their efforts are recognized; the cycle is mutual. Lastly, employers should try to remember these positive actions during any performance review; they can mitigate any less positive feedback that may be a part of a review and keep the total review in a more realistic perspective.
As a social psychologist, I am well aware of the strong impact of positive reinforcement (or feedback, in lay persons’ terms). Positive reinforcement has been shown, through decades of research, to have more effects in promoting good behavior than punishment has in correcting bad behavior. I am a firm believer in positive reinforcement. I thank all of my employees every single day, many times during the day, and at the end of the day, for all they did to make the day a great one. I have been told by countless employees that they have never, before working for me, been thanked just for doing their job. Everyone likes to be appreciated and it doesn’t require much effort to say “thanks,” “good job,” “great idea,” “way to go!,” etc. I thank my employees in writing, during meetings with other employees, in front of our clients, and on every occasion when they do something to help me. I do not limit providing positive reinforcement to my employees: I write letters of commendation, on a regular basis, to hotel staff and their managers, as well as others who have gone above and beyond the course of duty, or who have been extraordinarily nice to me. It is just as easy to say “thank you for a job well done” as it is to complain about poor performance by an employee or poor service on the part of a vendor and providing positive feedback often has a beneficial impact on others, in addition to the person receiving it. Try it!