I was once conducting a workshop when a high-level supervisor commented, “Why should I praise my employees, they get paid to do a job. Isn’t that enough?”
NO, it’s not!
Unfortunately, many people miss the opportunity to praise because they assume others already knows what they’re doing is the right thing.
However, doesn’t it feel great to have someone notice your hard work? It doesn’t have to be a 30-minute speech to have an impact. A simple “noticing” is often enough.
The power of praise is simple: Good work that is noticed, is repeated.
If you see people doing good work, say something and they’ll likely continue to do good work. They may even ask for more to do!
Here are some simple tips for praising others that will make people’s day.
1. Be sure your words and nonverbals are sincere.
You have to say how much you mean it and your voice and body language have to show how much you mean what you’re saying.
Taking the time to seek someone out and provide face-to-face praise, shows others that what they did really matters to you. It also allows you to maximize your nonverbals to help show your sincerity. If the praise is for someone’s work performance, it’s a great idea to follow up with a note or email reiterating the praise. That way, the person you’ve praised can share the information with his or her boss, or include it as evidence of their good work on their performance review.
3. Use the person’s name.
Using the person’s name while praising adds an extra level of sincerity and personalizes the praise. When you say, “Paul, I appreciate …”, Paul will note that the praise is specifically about him and not some generic comment you make to everyone, such as “Keep up the good work dude.”
4. Be specific.
Tell people exactly what they did well so they’ll know what to repeat. Don’t just say, “good job,” say, “Thank you for emptying the dishwasher so quickly and without being asked,” or, “Thank you for staying an hour late to complete the weekly report.”
5. Share the positive results of the person’s good work.
Once you’ve said exactly what was done that was so great, be sure to share why it was so great. Therefore, the praise above regarding the dishwasher would continue with, “It really saves me time so that I can focus on getting a nice dinner ready for the whole family.” The praise for the employee who stayed late would continue with, “Your willingness to stay late to get it done early really benefits the customer so she’ll have all the information she needs tomorrow to make a good decision.”
6. Don’t diminish the praise with negative comments.
Don’t praise the employee for staying late and then add, “I’m glad you’re finally willing to do what it takes to get the job done.” Don’t go on to tell the child who emptied the dishwasher, “If you’d have done it yesterday, we wouldn’t be eating dinner on paper plates tonight.”
Adding a criticism or negative editorial comment basically ruins the praise. Let the praise stand alone. If there are some lessons learned or you’d have preferred the person had acted sooner, faster, etc., then save those comments for another conversation.
7. Praise privately, as appropriate.
As much as some people appreciate public recognition, there are others who are embarrassed by it. Additionally, praising a child in front of another child or an employee in front of his or her peers can cause jealousy. Therefore, if you praise publicly, do so cautiously and don’t direct negative comments to the other parties. For example, don’t praise one child for emptying the dishwasher and then tell the other child, “Why can’t you be more like your sister by doing your chores without being asked?”