Positive and negative feedback helps employers and employees

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If employee performance is important to you, this free article about positive and negative feedback by Derek Stockley may help. Derek Stockley conducts one day leadership courses in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth or London.

Positive feedback

In the space of an hour recently, I received positive verbal and written feedback from two different people.

The first feedback was about this newsletter. It was brief and to the point.

"Just a note to let you know that I look forward to your newsletters.

The contents frequently make me think about the way that the company I work for does business and how I might better operate within the company.

Thank you for giving me ideas to think about."

Jackie, System Specialist/Trainer, Melbourne

The feedback rewarded my effort. I spend two-three hours on each newsletter, so feedback is very welcome. It also confirmed my purpose.

I also received a telephone call from a young person that I had recently coached in public speaking. He had wanted some help as he was going to speak at a large school function. He rang to say thank you, as his speech had been very well received. He had spoken clearly and confidently.

It felt good to receive the feedback. In these busy times, it takes effort for people to go to the trouble to contact someone. I very much appreciated it.

How do you feel when you receive positive feedback?

Now an even more important question - do your staff feel the same way? Do you provide feedback?

Staff need both formal and informal feedback, whether it be positive or negative.

In this article*, I highlighted just how important feedback is for leadership/management effectiveness. Communicating with employees about their performance is a critical difference. It can be the difference between being an average leader and a great leader.

Negative feedback

Whilst not as 'nice' as positive feedback, negative feedback is also important.

If staff members are doing something incorrectly, they need to be shown the correct way immediately. It does not just apply to health and safety situations. It applies to every aspect of their performance. The sooner the better, as it is much easier to correct a behaviour before it has become a bad habit that has to be 'unlearned'.

Naturally, positive feedback will also occur as the correct performance level is achieved and commented upon.

No feedback

This week I was discussing the new employee dismissal laws ** with a small business owner.

It reminded me of the difficulties business owners had with the old industrial relations legislation. Many employers lost their unfair dismissal cases because they had not provided any feedback to their poor performing employees.

Employees had a valid argument when they were dismissed for poor performance without prior notice. Long standing employees who had not received any performance feedback, particularly negative feedback, successfully argued that dismissal was harsh and unjust.

Employees have to be told when they are not reaching performance standards or targets, so that the have the opportunity to improve. Too many employers and managers have 'swept poor performance problems under the carpet'.


Employees need feedback. Negative feedback is better than no feedback. Positive feedback is best.

High performing leaders regularly provide feedback. The may do it through a formal performance review, but more regularly through informal, on-the-job feedback.

Personal reflection

  • Do you receive feedback?

  • Do you give feedback?

  • Do you have a staff performance issue that you need to address?

References/related articles

* Leadership article - this article explains how employee survey data was used to distil important information about effective leader behaviour. The article identifies a small number of leader behaviours that make a dramatic difference to leadership performance.

** WorkChoices Guide - a comprehensive guide to the understanding the Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Act 2005 (WorkChoices Act). This article explains the new industrial relations legislation introduced by the Federal Government (published January 2006).

To review the newsletter, see: Listing of recent newsletter articles. All articles relate to a performance theme, but individual newsletters cover a specific topic. Themes include customer service, leadership, management, website marketing and time management.

You can publish this article, see: Publication.

Derek Stockley conducts a variety of public training courses in Australia.

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