What is positive feedback?
Positive feedback is constructive comments, affirmations, or praise that someone receives to let them know that they are doing a good job. Whether it is positive feedback about a recent project they worked on, their behavior at work, or their overall work performance, positive feedback motivates employees and boosts their confidence to encourage them to keep up the good work. And while it is always encouraging to hear positive feedback, sometimes it’s hard to know how to respond to it. Keep reading for 6 tips on responding to positive feedback from your boss.
Whether you’re walking into a performance review, a weekly one-on-one, or find yourself walking the same way as your boss, there are many ways you can receive positive feedback from your manager, team lead, or even the CEO of your organization. Here’s how to respond.
1. Embrace the compliment
First, it’s important that you embrace the compliment. You worked hard to accomplish something significant, were highly productive, or even achieved a milestone. You may feel like you want to deflect or “minimize” all that you’ve accomplished in an effort to be humble. This is an extremely common approach, but it may come off as if you’re not confident in your own performance. Instead, embrace the compliment and let it fight off any imposter syndrome you may have regarding your role and its responsibilities. It can be difficult but always fight the urge to downplay your achievements and accomplishments.
2. Thank your manager for the positive feedback
Another way to respond is to thank your manager for the kind words. They clearly have taken the time to notice your hard work and were impressed by the effort you put in! Some ways you can word your thank you are:
- Thank you for noticing, it really makes me happy to hear!
- Thanks for noticing, I put a lot of time and effort into that project.
- Thanks for taking the time to let me know you feel this way!
- Thank you for the positive feedback! It means a lot to know you’ve noticed me.
3. Ask a follow up question to understand the situation
Unsure where to take the conversation from there? Follow it up with a question to understand exactly what they thought well. Ask if they can clarify the ways they noticed your performance go above and beyond. This step is important when you want to understand what specifically was so well received or if you have any lingering doubts about your own performance.
You can also follow up the compliment by asking if there’s anything else your manager would have done differently, if they were working on that project, or if they have additional advice for future improvement.
4. Document the positive feedback
It’s important to always document your positive feedback! This can serve as motivation for you to look back on when you’re feeling down, burned out, or having an unproductive day. Documenting your positive feedback is also helpful for when performance reviews roll around and you’d like to negotiate a raise.
5. Use this as an opportunity to understand what your manager cares about
Every manager is different, so what they notice or what they find to be especially beneficial to the success of the company will be different, too. When your manager compliments your performance, this helps you to understand what your manager cares about most. If they commended you for exceeding a deadline, this could be a sign that your manager pays special attention to the deadlines of their direct reports. Because they see deadlines as so important, they know the fact that you were so ahead of schedule as a sign of great work.
Or maybe you received positive feedback on showing exceptional customer support. This could mean your manager pays close attention to how your team responds to and interacts with customers.
6. Keep doing what you’re getting praise for!
You know the saying “don’t fix what isn’t broken”? The same applies here! If you notice you’re getting the same type of praise from managers, team leads, or even c-suite executives, keep doing what is working!
If the praise always centers around helping others on your team when they’re experiencing a bottleneck, then make yourself the go-to person when roadblocks happen. Or, if others are coming to you and praising how you handled a demanding customer, use those same tactics if you find yourself in a similar situation.
When the feedback is given to you in person, you have no time to sit and think, so you’ll need to act and respond fast! It’s common to let our brains skip over the praise we’re receiving because we’re simply waiting for the follow-up that starts with “however…”.
Instead, remember to soak it all in and have a response ready. The length of your response will depend on the setting you’re in with your manager. If the feedback is given in passing, you’ll obviously want to keep it shorter. But, if it’s in a one-on-one meeting or performance appraisal, this gives you more time to respond and ask for more information.
As mentioned, it’s essential to thank them for the feedback, let your manager know who this impacts you, and then clarify exactly what you did well.