When we do something negative, we expect to hear some sort of reprimand. At the same time, most of us are quite happy to hear words of praise after doing something good. This is even more magnified in a business setting.It is not surprising to learn that many leaders and managers dread criticizing their workers. Who could blame them? Giving out negative feedback is stressful and unpleasant. What is surprising, according to a study in the Harvard Business Review, is that many leaders and managers also avoid praising their employees!
“Leaders obviously carry some incorrect beliefs about the value and benefits of different forms of feedback,” Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman write in the article, ‘Why Do So Many Managers Avoid Giving Praise?’ “They vastly underestimate the power and necessity of positive reinforcement. Conversely, they greatly overestimate the value and benefit of negative or corrective feedback.”
Leaders may want to present themselves as being tough when presenting only negative feedback, but this only frustrates employees.
Think about how simple it is to offer some positive words. You can always find something – no matter how small – to praise someone about. This small effort goes a very long way in how that employee views you and the entire organization.
I have always made it a point to praise the artisans at the grassroots level. This praise is wholly deserved because it is these people who are the core of my organization. They are the creators who produce such beautiful works of art.
Unfortunately, it is these very same people who may feel too underappreciated. That is why I tell them how proud I am of them and their work and how much they matter to me. Just a few simple words of kindness instil in the weavers a well-deserved sense of pride and possibility. They become aware of their potential and value.
In the day-to-day arena of mundane tasks, leaders often forget how good it feels to be told that one is doing a good job – no matter what that job is. There are certain ways to offer praise that make it more effective.
Carmine Gallo, author of “Five Stars: The Communication Secrets to Get from Good to Great,” writes in Inc. Magazine that making praise personal is a good way to show how much you value your team. He cites the example of Richard Branson, philanthropist and founder of Virgin Group, who makes a concerted effort to offer praise in person whenever he can.
Making praise personal means so much more to employees than when it comes through a second party. This raises morale among the entire team.
Second, praise should have a purpose. While telling someone they did a good job goes a long way, doing so in a manner that rewards employees – even small tokens – make an even larger impact.
‘Simply saying ‘good job’ to an associate does not advance your brand’s overall mission or values,” Gallo writes in Inc.
Finally, praising employees in front of their peers is much better than doing it privately. People like to be recognized and they love it when it happens in front of others. One way to do this is to hold a weekly event or send out a weekly message to everyone praising those who go above and beyond.
The simple act of saying something they did good has powerful and lasting effects. All leaders should incorporate this practice into their organizations to make a meaningful impact.