Leadership is often as much about how we make our employees feel as it is what we are able to achieve. However, in many workplaces the drive for higher numbers leaves the people stuff on the sidelines. Inspirational leaders know that when they praise their employees on a regular basis, the results will come. Here are some common thoughts I hear in workplaces and some ideas to help you praise your employees more effectively.
Praise Makes People Soft
This is a direct result of our fixation on bossing people around and focusing on the bottom line. We fear that if we lighten up nobody will respect us and everyone will go soft. What I’ve observed in my years of training experience is that employees actually become more motivated when we praise them regularly. Think about it, don’t you like to be told you did a good job?
Should I Praise Everything?
We have this strange notion that praise should be doled out in tiny amounts every fifty years or so or upon retirement. People get mixed up in thinking that you have to praise everything employees do, even when they make a mistake. This is a misperception that stems from our discomfort with praising people. Think about it, you’re only going to praise behaviors that are positive anyway and you’re not going to praise for nonsense so what’s the problem? There is a lot of room between over-praising and being stingy with praise. Most leaders can find an appropriate level of praising.
Praise Makes People Uncomfortable
Many of us have not been regularly praised in our workplaces, by our friends or in our families so we don’t know what to do when a compliment comes our way. Never fear, praise is easy and it makes people feel great. The whole point of praising is to remove discomfort and make people happier not increase negative feelings.
How to Praise
Monitor your employees and watch for things they are doing well. When you see something positive happening go up to them, look them in the eye, smile and tell them you appreciate what they’re doing. You don’t have to make it complicated or go on and on. Just thank them for doing the task well and walk away. Please don’t expect a response of any kind, your job is simply to tell people how great they are. Make sure the praise is 100% positive and completely about the person you’re praising.
These concepts are the foundation of a workplace that is happier and more motivated. When people are praised they are more likely to do more work and try to excel. Everyone likes to be recognized and praise is the ideal way to do it. It also costs nothing but your commitment to go praise some people starting today and stick to it long-term.