Featured Image for the blog: Cut the Fluff: Specific and Actionable Positive Feedback Fuels Employee Happiness and Performance in Your Contact Center

The happiness that stems from praising your agents’ hard-earned accomplishments and telling your team thank you isn’t fleeting. Research out of Harvard shows leading with positivity and happiness boosts employee productivity, overall life satisfaction, and curbs turnover, too. In fact, every business outcome shows improvement when the brain is positive.

It’s easy to think that for better performance, you must constantly critique your agents so they can improve. In reality, though, do you do better at work when you receive constant criticism? Working under scrutiny would make anyone shut down and perform poorly.

Offering up praise and recognition has the opposite effect. Even sounding off with a simple thank you to a team member improves their morale and makes them feel valued.

That’s why companies who build recognition-rich cultures have 31% lower turnover rates than their peers. And, organizations who focus on praise and employee recognition increase engagement levels by nearly 60%.

Ultimately, recognizing progress on meaningful work—highlighted by positive feedback—proves to be one of the best drivers of engagement, motivation, and innovation.

The psychological impact of positivity has long-term effects on a person’s work life, and at home. To improve your agents’ happiness and boost contact center performance, here’s what you need to know about handing out positive feedback.

Focusing on employee strengths drives higher business results.

Gallup research found that building employees’ strengths is far more effective in driving high performance than highlighting weaknesses.

In fact, when workers feel like their manager focuses on their strengths (and lets them spend more time per day doing what they are best at), they are:

  • Six times more likely to be engaged on the job.
  • Less stressed out than their peers.
  • More energized to get things done.
  • Less likely to report experiencing worry, stress, anger, sadness, or physical pain during the previous day.

While we can’t deny that you need to address problematic behaviors and stop toxicity before it seeps through cubicle walls, positive feedback is the motivational tool for your team. It drums up intrinsic motivation and connects your agents to their work – creating a lasting impact in your contact center.

Intrinsic motivation fuels empowerment and positive performance in your contact center. Learn how.

The best practices for giving positive feedback that resonates.

Coach your agents to better performance with actionable and relevant feedback focused on their strengths. Here are four ways you can start now:

1. Begin with simple awareness, and then make changes to your process.

Start small. Practice self-awareness and get in tune with the type of feedback you’ve been dishing out. Are you focusing on agent strengths? When was the last time you gave your agents direct feedback? Did you use the golden ratio of five positive comments to one negative comment? Think through where you stand on feedback now, then work to adapt as you map out future coaching sessions.

Be careful not to change too much, too quickly. If you find you’ve been dishing out too much negativity, switching to pure positivity might make your feedback feel inauthentic.

2. Tweak your mindset.

After you nail down your own feedback tendencies, shift your mindset if you err on the negative side. Make a conscious effort to look for the positive moments and praise your agents’ hard work. Take stock of positive points you can make, before you look for problems.

3. Consider the three E’s of agent experience.

Offer a mix of positive feedback that reinforces each of the three E’s of agent experience: efficiency, effectiveness, and empowerment. If all of your feedback focuses on only one of the E’s, it can communicate that only one piece of your agents’ experience matters. Focusing too much on how quickly your agents answer calls, for example, enforces that efficiency is the key driver of performance. That’s not feedback relevant to the agent’s holistic wellbeing.

Want to learn more about the three E’s of agent experience? Get the ebook to see why they matter, and how you can coach to each piece of your agents’ experience.

Pro tip: Lots of managers give empowerment little attention since efficiency and effectiveness metrics are more concrete and easier to address. But empowerment is nothing to take lightly. Agents want to feel like their work has purpose and meaning. And, they want to feel connected to a larger purpose. Empowering your agents does just that. Any time you can link positive feedback to your company’s bigger purpose, it’s more likely to stick and fuel positive performance.

4. Make it count.

Don’t offer positive feedback without context or just in the name of hitting the 5:1 ratio. If too much praise is heaped on agents without real context, it’s just fluff. Offering up fluffy feedback that isn’t relevant to your agent’s performance does the opposite of what you want it to. Your agents tune it out, and they trust you less.

Remember, each of your agents is a thinking, feeling human. Keep your feedback specific and actionable to drive better performance. And, hand out some much-needed praise to recognize your agents’ constant effort. Be honest, be positive, and don’t shy away from 1:1 conversation with agents.

When feedback is specific and actionable, it is much easier for agents to understand and apply moving forward. Both the comments that help your agents grow and those that recognize their efforts. Good agents want to get better. And, in many cases, they feel frustrated by a lack of feedback.

Your COO will thank you when your contact center’s performance spikes and your agents stop leaving.

Need an action plan for better 1:1s with your agents. We have one for you. Head to the article, over here.

We originally published this post on June 6, 2018, and we updated it with fresh insight on September 25, 2019.