Give praise

First, learn how to use it effectively

If you’re like most managers, you know the importance of rewarding employees for good work. Perhaps you like to offer praise — public or private — to show approval of a teammate’s hard work. That can be good. But if you typically dish it out for every little thing, you may be doing more harm than good, hampering your staff’s performance and, ultimately, your own.

The Motivational Manager, a workplace productivity newsletter, offers some tips on how to hand out praise properly:

  • Be very specific about what you’re praising. “You’re doing a great job” is so vague, it can apply to anything. “You did a great job on the Anderson account” is much more clear and concise.
  • Do not praise ordinary performance. Praise for routine tasks won’t motivate employees to do better. Worse, it won’t have any meaning when they do truly excellent work.
  • Don’t just “hit and run.” Spend some time — even a lunch date – to let a staff worker know how much his or her work really means to you and the company.
  • Use praise to improve poor performance. This works best if an employee is already doing well in another area. Sit him or her down and praise the good performance. Then say, “Now, I want you to take the same approach with this other area….”
  • Never assume praise is enough. Praise starts to ring hollow if that’s all that is ever offered. Superior performance over time deserves more than compliments. At some point, other forms of appreciation — bonuses, raises, interesting job assignments, etc. — will be absolutely essential.
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