Positive vs. Constructive Feedback (With Examples)

August 25, 2021
7 Min Read
Photo by
Jacob Rosenburg

‍Table of Contents:

What is positive and constructive feedback?

Positive and constructive feedback is feedback about positive events, positive behaviors, positive contributions, positive actions taken, positive results, or positive outcomes. Giving this type of feedback is a way of letting others know about the positive effect they have on you or your work environment. Doing this can help build better relationships with co-workers at work as well as friends outside of work.

Positive feedback and constructive feedback can also be referred to as 'feedforward' in a positive work culture. To demonstrate the importance of feedback, a study by Officevibe shows that 69% of workers would work harder if they felt their efforts were being recognized.

Positive and constructive feedback is positive reinforcement of what is going well with a project or task. It's positive because it acknowledges positive behaviors and is not criticism. It's constructive because it also gives information on how to continue positive work practices in the future. It is a positive reaction or response intended to improve the work in question, rather than an explanation of why it doesn't meet expectations.

Critical feedback can be tough, both giving feedback and receiving corrective feedback. Effective employee feedback involves having a feedback conversation to offer constructive criticism using a specific example of an instance where the staff member performed good work. Use the feedback sandwich method to then point out the negative behavior and explain specific goals that will result in a positive outcome and improve the overall employee experience. It’s important not to give feedback that is ambiguous, as studies have shown this type of feedback is often interpreted as “more favorable than it actually is.”

People will normally feel more motivated when they receive positive and constructive feedback from their colleagues - especially if their manager delivers it. This is because effective feedback focuses on what has been done well, shows that the person who gave the feedback noticed, and gives them something concrete to build upon for future improvements. Also, feedback that is positive and constructive builds trust between teams by inspiring collaboration. This type of ongoing feedback will have a positive impact and managers can expect to see improvement in behavior and employee performance.

What's the difference between positive and constructive feedback?

The positive and constructive feedback definition is often misinterpreted, as for many people positive means an enthusiastic cheer to reassure morale.

However, positive and constructive feedback involves giving positive approval to work that has been completed successfully - but also suggesting how it can be improved.

On the other hand, positive reinforcement is a technique where positive responses are given to encourage 'good' behavior - meaning that people will behave more positively in the future because they have received positive reinforcement before. This may be confused with positive and constructive feedback even though they are very different concepts.

The key difference between positive and constructive feedback is that positive means good, positive means positive behavior, positive means positive feelings, positive means positive events - while constructive means to build up. When giving feedback that is meant to help people improve their work or behavior, then the more effective way of doing it (and more likely to be well received) is using the word "constructive" instead of "positive."

Why is positive and constructive feedback important?

Positive and constructive feedback encourages feelings of satisfaction within teams, inspires collaboration, and boosts morale. It also creates a positive work culture, where staff is less likely to be afraid of negative feedback. When positive feedback is provided regularly within the workplace, it helps managers motivate staff members, which in turn encourages them to become catalysts for positive change.

The positive and constructive feedback definition has grown to mean more than just positive reinforcement because giving positive feedback does not have to be restricted to encouraging positive behavior. Rather, positive and constructive means giving honest recognition for what's right with the work - but also having an honest discussion about how it could be made even better next time around through positive adjustments! 

Benefits of positive and constructive feedback

  1. It builds trust between teams by inspiring collaboration.
  2. It helps managers motivate staff members.
  3. It encourages positive behavior by rewarding it.
  4. Receiving positive and constructive criticism and feedback makes people feel satisfied with their work.
  5. Encouraging positive and constructive feedback builds a positive work culture where employees know they can trust their manager to give them honest feedback, positive or negative.
  6. Positive and constructive criticism and feedback encourage positive change, as it creates a positive work environment where people feel encouraged to try out positive changes to their work.
  7. It helps managers and employees focus on positive aspects of work completed, rather than just the negative aspects that need to be improved.

Remote teams and positive and constructive feedback

There are more remote workers now than ever before. A study by Quantum Workplace shows that remote employees are 6% more engaged than on-site employees, proving that there are data-driven reasons to allow and encourage employees to work remotely. 

With remote teams, positive reinforcement is more important than ever as many companies simply don't get the chance to meet face-to-face on a daily basis - making positive encouragement all the more essential for remote staff motivation. This positive reinforcement is usually positive and constructive feedback given in the form of instant messages, emails, or text conversations.

This positive and constructive feedback can make a huge difference to morale within a team, working remotely. However, it is especially important for positive and constructive feedback to be given on a regular basis as positive reinforcement can completely change the dynamic of remote teams for the better - promoting positive collaboration and improved productivity.

It also helps to have feedback software in place so managers don't have to rely on their memory to recall positive aspects of employees' work - they can just log into an online platform that records positive comments about the work completed.

Positive and constructive feedback ideas

There are many examples of effective constructive feedback, such as:

  • Make sure that your positive feedback is specific rather than general. "You're doing a good job" isn't going to have as big of an impact as "I really appreciated how quickly you were able to build these wireframes, they've been very helpful already!"
  • Make employee feedback timely. It doesn’t have to be provided in a formal performance review. If you catch someone doing something right, tell them! Don't wait until the next day or week to let them know what they did well. The sooner your performance feedback can be put into action, the better.
  • Make positive and constructive feedback regular by offering positive reinforcement on a regular basis throughout the workday. This will help build trust in yourself as a manager since employees will know that if they continue to meet expectations, positive reinforcement will follow.
  • Give positive feedback on top of the normal day-to-day things like “good job” or “thank you.”
  • Provide positive and constructive feedback on a small scale as well as the big picture: it is not all about providing positive reinforcement for doing something positive, but rather consistently coaching your staff to do better.
  • Give out positive praise via video or text messaging. This makes for an easy way of encouraging positive behavior.

Examples of positive comments include:

  • For an amazing task: "That was fantastic!"
  • For positive teamwork: "I really enjoyed working with you on that project, and I think we made a positive difference." 
  • For positive individual work: "Looking over the report, I can see how much time you put into it. You did a great job!"
  • For specific work: "I liked the format of the report, it was very easy to follow."
  • For timeliness: "It was great that you managed to finish the project on time - let's make sure this happens again next week!"
  • For teamwork: "It was really positive how you were able to check with everyone if they had any questions about the meeting agenda. Thanks for being prepared!"

Positive and constructive feedback software

There are lots of different ways that positive and constructive feedback can be given - some companies swear by positive reinforcement apps while others prefer face-to-face conversations or email chains.

Whichever positive and constructive feedback method you choose, it's important that everyone within the company be on the same page. Working remotely has its challenges but positive reinforcement is one of those things that can really help remote teams feel closer to each other.

A great way to make positive and constructive feedback successful within a remote team is using feedback software to keep communication up and running between staff members- even when they aren't working in the same office! Remote teams working together via positive feedback software are more efficient, collaborative, positive, and productive.

The software needs to include: instant messenger, email notifications for positive comments, automatic reminders after positive interactions (to encourage more positive behavior), and analytics that allow managers to monitor how employees are utilizing their time.

This positive reinforcement system is just one of the many benefits that come with remote team collaboration software - including increased productivity, improved work satisfaction, and happier team members!

Matter is the perfect free Slack app for providing ongoing feedback in work settings, whether that be in-person or remote. It changes the approach to giving and receiving feedback, making it easier and less stressful! This app has a positive impact and improves manager leadership skills and communication skills.

Make employee recognition & rewards fun with Matter!
Free To Try. Easy Setup. No Credit Card Required.
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