5 Ways to Give Praise

praieResearch shows that ‘appreciation for a job well done’ consistently ranks highly as a motivator in employee surveys. Yet research also shows that most people don’t feel they get enough praise.

So what’s going on?

Putting aside the fact that it’s likely that some of our survey participants feel they should be praised for turning up every morning, my view is that business owners and managers are sometimes reluctant to give praise because they’ve had experiences of being praised themselves in ways that, frankly, haven’t motivated them at all.  And, of course, they’re not over keen on having the same effect on their employee.

It’s actually quite easy to deliver praise badly – praise that is seen as patronising or manipulative by the recipient. But done well, it’s dynamite.

Here are five ways to do it well:

1. Prepare the Praise

It’s interesting that many of the managers I know will spend literally hours preparing to give criticism, but only a matter of minutes (if at all) preparing to give praise. The result? A passing comment (literally) on the lines of ‘nice job Doug, keep it up’ Say what? Which job? The whole job? Keep what up? Not only is this type of praise confusing but, by and large, it’s not wildly motivating. Top tip – spend as much time preparing to give praise as you would to give criticism

2. Be Specific

Describe exactly what you are praising and why. Try the following method:

  • When you….
  • What happened was…
  • And the result is….

For example:
When I showed the client the research you had done on their business she said she was really impressed by the insights you had provided. The result is she wants us to make a proposal for a further piece of business. That’s a really good outcome for us so thank you and well don.

3. Show Genuine Interest

Ask questions to better understand what the employee did, for example, what preparation they did for a successful presentation, how they managed to design such effective visual aids. Describe how you feel about what they’ve done e.g. pleased, impressed, excited (the hug and kiss might be slightly over doing it.)

4. Let the Praise Stand Alone

Don’t be tempted to mix the praise with criticism e.g. That was a great presentation. If only your written work was as good. Deal with the written work issue at a different time –unless, of course, you’re a fan of the ‘tall poppy syndrome

5. Do it Quickly and Time it Well

Give your praise as soon after the event as possible – it has far more impact. Be careful not to give the praise at a time when it will appear conditional or a ‘softening up’ process e.g. just before you delegate a task or ask for the person to work late

Public or Private?

There’s an old saying ‘praise in public, criticise in private’. Though I wholeheartedly agree with the latter I’m not totally convinced by the former. Of course the principle is sound. We want other employees to hear the praise and understand what we are praising because we hope that they will want to emulate those behaviours or achievements. But not everyone is comfortable being singled out in this way and some people find accepting praise in front of their colleagues just embarrassing. My advice would be to deliver the praise in private. You can then ask the employee if they are happy for you to share the praise with their colleagues – say in the next team meeting – and take it from there

And a few final tips

If the performance you are praising is exceptional, you will probably want to bring this to the attention of your boss and possibly higher. If you have a reward system which is credible you may want to utilise this. In any event, it’s a good idea to follow up your conversation with the employee in writing (a note will do) and to copy that note to your performance files.



11 Responses to 5 Ways to Give Praise

  1. […] have, and should have, taken advantage of    Read more on how to give praise in my blog ‘5 Ways to Give Praise’     […]

  2. […] is seen as patronising or manipulative by the recipient. But done well, its dynamite. In my blog ‘5 Ways to Give Praise’ I outline how to use praise for the positive reinforcement that Kyle talks […]

  3. […] of blogs on giving constructive criticism here and my blog ‘5 Ways to Give Praise’ here) and without repeating myself here are some key points: […]

  4. […] for us so thank you and well done        Read more on how to give praise here          […]

  5. […] feedback to your employees – some praise?   (Find some tips on how to give praise at ‘5 Ways to Give Praise’)    Could one of your employees use some performance feedback?     […]

  6. […] well or exceptionally badly. This makes some sense because, of course, when we want to give some praise for high performance we need to give that as close to the event as possible (because it makes more […]

  7. […] But done well, its dynamite – and a great ‘gift’. Take a look at my blog ‘Five Ways to Give Praise’ for some ideas on how to do it well     Alternative: Aromatherapy Oil. Show your […]

  8. […] (Read more about management skills in giving positive feedback at ‘5 Ways to Give Praise’) […]

  9. […] it’s positively impacting the business / team / department etc   (Read more at ‘5 Ways to Give Praise’) […]

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