It’s been my experience that much of the feedback in the workplace is given on inputs instead of results. For example, I’ve seen awards given for “working hard” or “staying late”, but the only true result of the person’s effort was that they did their job. The truth is that working hard or staying late to finish their job may actually be a sign of incompetence. On the other hand, I’ve seen remarkable accomplishments overlooked because the inputs used to achieve those accomplishments didn’t fit someone’s idea of good.
I’m guilty of focusing on inputs. It seems natural. I’ve started a new personal rule. When I have a positive or negative comment I want to share, I’m going to follow it with, “and that resulted in…” and describe the specific result so its clear why the behavior was positive or negative.