Feedback and Rewards

Feedback and Rewards

Although feedback and rewards are two different aspects of reacting to your employees’ work, they are often tied together. For example, after landing a major new account, Jennifer’s boss told her that not only was he pleased with how she performed, but that she would be receiving a bonus for her good work. Both feedback and rewards give employees a sense of how well they’ve done their jobs in the eyes of their manager and the organization.


Feedback is vital to the health of a unit. A leader must communicate feedback effectively to a staff in order to get desired results and improved future performance. As a leader and manager of people, you’ll be required to give both negative and positive feedback. Both are necessary, although positive feedback may be the easier of the two to communicate.

Positive feedback should be given when an employee is performing a task right, innovating with success, or surpassing previous performance.

Be sure to give feedback that specifies exactly what was good. Avoid generalizations such as, “You’re doing a great job.” They may not sound believable, and they don’t really let an employee know what he or she is doing right.

Negative feedback is also integral to molding or changing a group or individual’s performance. Again, make sure that you are specific about the undesired action or behavior and avoid criticizing a person’s personality traits. For example, John continually makes the same mistakes, although his peers and his boss have corrected his work several times. Instead of telling John that he is hard-headed or just not getting it, his boss continues to tell him the exact nature of the mistake and gives him a cheat-sheet to use when performing the task in the future.

The cheat-sheet is an example of the other half of negative feedback. The feedback alone will tell a group member he or she has done something wrong. To correct that behavior, however, you must also explain how to fix the problem or teach the employee how to perform correctly.

Tip: You may also want to solicit feedback from your group members. This will help in promoting a teamwork atmosphere and let employees know that you value their opinions.

You should also draw a clear line between formal and informal feedback. Formal feedback is in the form of written yearly reviews that gauge an employee’s performance and are tied to raises and promotions. Informal feedback most often takes the form of oral comments—for example, telling an employee he did a great job on a specific task and how. You should try to give both positive and negative informal feedback often to keep your employees working in the desired manner.


Rewards for desired performance can take many forms. Along with feedback, rewards are how you let an employee know he or she has done something right.
Rewarding desired performance can motivate a group to push themselves. Rewards make extraordinary individual efforts and teamwork worth it for your staff.
Rewards can take several forms, including the following:

  • Promotions.  When an employee consistently performs up to the standard you have set and beyond it, you might consider promoting that employee. This rewards the employee by giving him or her increased responsibility and stature in the organization.
  • Raises.  Usually tied to yearly reviews, raises are the most common form of rewarding employees. However, most organizations are in the habit of giving raises to employees every year, regardless of performance. There should be a scale outlining a range of raises tied to specific performance. For example, you might give an employee who is reliable but not stellar a 3 percent raise, while giving your star performer an 8 percent increase in salary.
  • Bonuses.  A bonus is standard in some industries, such as sales, where employees are given bonuses tied to the amount of business they pull in for the company. In others, bonuses are given at the holidays or to reward an outstanding achievement. If you or your organization has a policy on bonuses, make sure your employees are aware of that policy.
  • Fame.  Complimenting an employee may not sound like a huge reward. However, complimenting an employee on a job well done at a staff meeting or in front of company officers can be extremely rewarding.
  • Increased trust.  If an employee consistently performs outstanding work and meets individual and team goals, you might reward that employee by giving him increased trust. For example, Jim often accomplishes tasks before he’s asked and has saved the company money by streamlining reporting protocol. Jim’s boss not only rewarded him with a raise, but gave him the freedom to work in a more self-directed manner