Give Credit Where Credit Is Due: Positive Reinforcement In the Workplace

Posted by on Thursday, December 13th, 2012 with 1 Comments

Appreciate employees with positive feedback

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When it comes to executive coaching, we cannot stress enough the importance of positive reinforcement in the workplace. No matter who you manage or how big your team is, we all need to be told we did well on project.

You see, your office is only as strong as it’s weakest link.  If you aren’t using positive reinforcement, you may be portrayed as a bully.  It’s not that you aren’t a nice person – it’s that you won’t be perceived as one if you don’t act in a nurturing, supportive way.

Let’s take a minute to focus on the reasons it’s important to positively reinforce your team:

There’s no question that incentives work.  Time and time again, it’s been shown that incentivizing your team will make them work harder because they feel better. Does that strike a cord?  Your people will do right by you if you do right by them – plain and simple.

It’s even easier to give positive reinforcement than you think. The principle makes almost every top 10 list of management tips – so you know it has to be good. As any executive coach would advise, just make sure you’re balancing out every critique or two with a positive statement of follow-up.

Here’s some things you might say when you need to give negative feedback:

“I know you put a lot of time into this …”

“This looks great. Could we add …”

“You picked up that concept quick.  Why don’t you also …”

“I’m impressed with your idea. Do you mind …”

“This is an excellent start. Let’s also …”

“Wow. I didn’t think of that. What if …”

The point here is that even the worst news can be delivered in a way that makes your person feel appreciated.  It’s your job to manage people in a positive way that makes them feel empowered.  Executive leadership can’t just focus on the fact, but also needs to keep people feeling great about what they do.


Give employee recognition and accept employee feedback

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In other words, no matter who you work with, pay attention to how you say thank you for a job well done.  If you find yourself being too direct or too forward, you’ll see the way your negative management spreads like a weed through the office.

Instead of smiling, your assistant will sigh and roll her eyes.  Looks between coworkers will include head shaking instead of nodding.

Of course, there are far more benefits than you might have imagined to positive reinforcement:  

Even if it’s uncomfortable for you, an executive coach can teach you the best ways to approach using positive reinforcement to manage your employees.  After a while, you won’t just see and feel a change, you’ll be impressed by how much better you feel to have been the initiator.


Larry Seal is an experienced Executive Coach, Facilitator, and Speaker with over 20 years experience working with senior and executive level teams. For executive coaching needs, corporate development and improved leadership skills, contact Larry Seal today!

One Response to “Give Credit Where Credit Is Due: Positive Reinforcement In the Workplace”

  1. Leslie H. says:

    This post was extremely insightful and I love the video and illustrations that helped to really highlight your pro positive reinforcement message. With a background in psychology and my own brand spanking new business I am always searching for ways to effectively lead my staff, balance my work and play, and become successful. In my research I was lucky to come across the book by author Bill Sims Jr. “Green Beans & Ice Cream” ( This is an author who is definitely pushing the same message as you! The book covers the best and the worst ways to motivate people, how to use positive reinforcement correctly, and most importantly how a behavior change can turn around your whole business. It’s an easy read, almost feels like you’re having a real conversation with the author. That’s why I enjoyed your post so much. So many business blogs are so stuffy and boring. I like posts and books that sound HUMAN. I think anyone trying to run their own business and keep their employees happy would benefit from this post and this book :) Thanks!

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