If you hold all your positive comments for year-end appraisals, employees will have to travel a long distance on just one tank of praise.
Better: Schedule regular praise pit stops along the way, not just when the calendar indicates it’s review time.
Make praise a priority—even for those you don’t supervise. If another manager’s secretary has gone out of his or her way to get you a report on time; if another department came through with figures a day earlier than deadline; if support your department received from elsewhere in the company surpassed expectations; be liberal with your praise.
Don’t just pat the recipient on the back. Pass the word to his or her supervisor too. Better: Send a written note to both of them. You’ll attract the indirect benefit of being labeled a manager who knows how to motivate people, even those you don’t have immediate control over.
Note: Make sure you praise the performance, not the person, so they know what they did right and repeat it.