On Time and On Target

One way to think about the proper delivery of positive feedback is to use the phrase, “On Time and On Target.”  Being on time and on target boils down to a set of skills that you can practice.

On Time

Generally, as soon as you see positive behavior from your employees, you should recognize it.  Don’t delay. When you wait the behavior is forgotten, or the details fade for both you and the person you are attempting to reinforce, and the reinforcement you are providing is less effective.  The more fresh it is on your mind, and the closer it is to the actual behavior, the more effective the feedback will be.

On Target

Good feedback must be specific. Address specific actions that an employee took that resulted in a desired outcome. Making general statements like “good job” doesn’t tell your employees anything other than that they caused a positive outcome.  What your employees need to know is what they did that lead to that outcome.  It shows that you are paying attention and that you care about what your employees are doing.

A helpful way to construct good positive feedback is to put it in an “I message” format, which consists of the following elements:

  • I saw what you did (the desired, repeatable behavior)
  • I appreciate it (be sincere)
  • It’s important (how it contributes to our work or productivity)
  • It makes me feel…

On Time and On Target