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How to Give a Constructive Compliment

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How to Give a Constructive Compliment

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As a leader, it is critically important to give team members consistent feedback. Leaders need to give feedback not only on what they need to improve, but also just as importantly on what they are doing well. Yet I meet employees all over the world who tell me their boss never gives them any positive feedback only critical feedback when they make a mistake. When I worked in corporate America and asked my boss how I was doing he told me “I will let you know when you screw up!” It is any wonder that according to research only 46% of employees place “a great deal of trust” in their employers, and 15% report “very little” or “no trust at all.”

If we want to improve communication and build trust, we as leaders need to learn how to give constructive compliments. What is a constructive compliment? It is a compliment that is much more effective, directive ,and results in people wanting to repeat their positive behaviors. I meet and talk to many leaders who don’t know how to give a constructive compliment. Here are some guidelines to make sure your positive feedback is effective and gets results.

Give Compliments

Too many managers give feedback that is negative and addresses mistakes, but never give positive feedback. Giving people credit for what they do well, increases productivity and improves morale. Everyone needs a pat on the back. It is very demoralizing when team members work hard and don’t get any acknowledgement of their hard work. I have mangers in leadership programs who say, “I’m not giving someone a compliment when it is something we pay them to do.” This is a lack of awareness of human psychology.

Make the Compliment Specific

When a leader gives someone a compliment it should be specific, not vague. Don’t say “great presentation, Rachael.” Instead say “great presentation Rachael, and what I really liked was the way you started your presentation with a story that really got the groups attention, and I think we will get approval, thanks to your superb effort.”

Follow This Formula

Here is the formula to follow to make sure a compliment is constructive:

  1. Positive words (great, wonderful, excellent)
  2. Specifically, what went well (the action they took)
  3. The result (increased sales, changed opinions, getting approval)
  4.  Thank them.

Here is what it sounds like: “Joan, thanks for all your wonderful work on the Smith proposal. I really liked how you included research and data to back up the key points. I am sure this will result is our firm getting the business. Thanks again for your effort and hard work.”

Don’t Mix a Compliment with a Criticism

If you are giving a constructive compliment, don’t add in a negative comment. You want to focus on the positive and not mention any negative.

If you follow these guidelines, you will be much more successful!

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