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In praise of praise

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in Centerpiece,Leaders & Managers,People Management

by Tacy M. Byham, Ph.D. and Richard S. Welling, Ph.D.

employees shaking handsThe research is clear: Praise is good for the bottom line.

People who receive regular recognition and praise for their good work increase individual productivity, receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers, have better safety records and fewer accidents, and are more likely to stay with their company.

New leaders tend to get tripped up on praise because they worry that it will seem unprofessional or that people will get overconfident and complacent. It isn’t and they won’t.

So, we encourage you to overcome your resistance.

Praise doesn’t have to be a big production, but it is a big deal to the receiver. And it can and should take place in the regular interactions you have with people.

We often think to offer praise when a team member has gone that extra mile—he completed a project ahead of time, volunteered to be part of the interview process for a new hire or suggested a process improvement for the group.

But it’s just as important to offer praise appropriately even when someone has delivered mixed or disappointing results on an assignment. Of course, this is also an opportunity to coach the individual for improvement. But chances are the person tried hard. Very hard. Her effort represents an opportunity for you to deliver authentic praise in a difficult coaching situation.

Be sure to explore the effort she put into her assignment in detail and deliver specific, sincere compliments around it.

Here are some tips on giving employees recognition:

  • Find out how individuals prefer to be recognized. Some don’t like being the center of attention in meetings; some people prefer individual to group emails.
  • There are three things to think about when you recognize ­others: their efforts, their contributions and their results.

If you praise just the results, you’ll miss mentioning the ­valuable work that was done to achieve them.

  • Get to know how people approach their work and why others like working with them. Mention how their personal style affects others.
  • Regularly inform senior management about individual accomplishments. (First check with your manager to find out how she prefers to be informed.)
  • Don’t forget about virtual team members! Even though they’re out of sight, you can foster their engagement with the team when you let them know they are valuable contributors, too.
  • Send handwritten thank-you notes. On paper. Yes! They work! Now more than ever.

Tacy M. Byham, Ph.D., is the CEO of Development Dimensions International. Richard S. Welling, Ph.D., is a global expert in leadership development. They are co-authors of Your First Leadership Job, www.YourFirstLeadershipJob.com.

 

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