Published Date: 10/06/2014
By Reneé Watkins
We all enjoy praise from our employer from time to time. A little praise can be a powerful motivator. It can give us just the boost we need to cross the finish line on a project, or stir our initiative to create a more efficient process we have been thinking about for some time.
Research by the Harvard Business Review shows teams who are praised often outperform teams who are praised less in all areas of business. A Gallup study found that 67 percent of employees surveyed do not receive praise in a given week. The same study found employees who receive praise for doing a good job have an increase in productivity of 20 percent, while employees who feel unrecognized are three times more likely to leave within the next year.
Therefore, it naturally follows that managers can increase productivity among employees and protect the organization against employee turnover by effectively praising employees for good work when it is warranted.
So, what is the best and most effective way to praise employees? Can you praise an employee too often? Is there a “right” way and a “wrong” way to praise an employee? What type of behavior should trigger giving praise?
How to Give Effective Praise
Your team needs to know where they stand without having to assume it based on your body language or a comment you make in a meeting. If your employees know where they stand, they are less likely to question it or to spend their time worrying about their jobs instead of doing their job.
Remember that you are their manager and, as such, your opinion of their work matters most to them. Make sure your praise is meaningful, as employees will recognize empty praise and resent it. However, give meaningful praise as often as you can. Praise can increase productivity and lessen tension in the workplace.
Again, do not hand out “hollow praise.” If you begin to praise employees for no reason, they will not believe your praise is sincere when it is really warranted. In order to do this, make sure your praise is specific and detailed regarding exactly what you are praising them for. This will also show them you were paying close attention to the details and you really understand the importance of their efforts to the overall success.
Granted, your praise is intended to help your employee have a clear understanding of how much you value the work they do. However, praise can also work for you as well. If you see an area for improvement in your employee’s performance, praise their improvement in this area when warranted. This type of praise will drive them to continue their improvement in this area and will create a more confident and productive employee. Praise can be used to develop your employees and increase the productivity of your team.
When you praise your employees, it will also serve to raise the bar on what warrants praise. Other employees will want recognition too, and will work harder to get it. Do not let a week go by that you are not praising and recognizing someone for something. Praise does not have to be huge, but it does need to be sincere and about something meaningful. Set aside 10 minutes each week to praise a team member. Take five minutes to think about something really great that happened last week and who was responsible. Then, take the next five minutes and praise them for a job well done.