In many development circles there is an ongoing debate about the value of positive versus negative feedback. Better phrases are of course; motivational versus developmental feedback.

The truth is that in high performing teams both aspects of feedback are present.



Yet in many recruitment circles there is a tendency to focus on the developmental area rather that praising someone for a job well done.

It’s not surprising when you consider the nature of recruitment and how many companies have grown at an accelerated rate.

The classic scenario, I am sure you have come across, is a couple of driven high billers set up their own company and the money and opportunity flows. Next they bring on three or four new recruits and suddenly the proverbial hits the fan!

Micromanagement ensues and the, “just do what I tell you” mentality starts.  Not surprisingly 18 months down the road the culture sucks and nobody want to join the team. The once predicted business growth stalls and the planned management buyout is now much further away.

All of this could have been averted if there had been a focus on the right feedback for the right situation for everyone in the organisation.

Research on creating sustainable performance published in the Harvard Business Review confirms that one of the best ways to help employees excel is to give them feedback.

It’s one of the primary levers leaders have to increase a sense of engagement and energy in a team.

Giving your consultants, team leaders and billing managers regular updates on personal performance, as well as on how the business is doing, helps them feel valued.

Highlighting your employee’s strengths can help generate a sense of accomplishment and motivation. A Gallup survey from last year found that 67% of employees whose managers focused on their strengths were fully engaged in their work, as compared to only 31% of employees whose managers focused on their weaknesses.



I appreciate that this wasn’t recruitment specific, however it’s a recognised pattern across all business sectors; at the end of the day, people are people.

It’s also important to know what the positive behaviours are that are driving results. Then you can explore how to be even better.

The same survey also showed that employees who receive recognition are also far less likely to quit.


Feedback horses for courses

In my previous life I was also a recruitment business owner and I appreciate that some days it’s hard to muster up the ‘strength’ to pat someone on the back when billings are down. Yet it has to happen because this is about the long game, which will always have its highs and lows.

Therefore, you need to be ‘present’ with your team and help them develop and improve their skills and attitude if they are getting it wrong and also to encourage the small wins they are making as they step out of their comfort zone to grow.

To refresh your feedback skills, I covered the different types of feedback in a previous article you can find here.

Here is something else to consider. Offering motivational feedback has a benefit for you too. High performers offer more motivational feedback to peers; in fact, high-performing teams share nearly six times more positive/motivational feedback than average teams. Meanwhile, low-performing teams share nearly twice as much developmental feedback than average teams.

I am sure that rings a bell for many of you. I have experienced both scenarios with teams I was a part of and I vividly remember how working as part of a negative and bitchy team impacted my own performance.


So where can you start?

By making positive/motivational feedback part of your culture and based on the behaviours you want to see. In our various programmes we cover in depth how to manage and lead teams from setting up the right behaviours to developing an induction plan.

This makes it easy to spot and reward behaviours when you see them. To get you started we have a number of resources and templates you can download here.


Warm regards,




High performing consultants are the lifeblood of any successful recruitment organisation. The challenge starts when your recruiters underperform. There is a solution and I cover it in-depth in my latest ebook; How to Convert Your under Performers to Consistent Billers in 14 Days or less. You can download it here.