A Guideline to Giving Praise – How to Motivate Employees
There are many answers to the question, “How do you motivate people?” By far one of the most underutilized, powerful answers is a tool many top managers use - the gift of sincere praise. Let's take a look at what it means and how to do it:
1. What do we mean when we say that many top managers use the gift of sincere praise?
It never hurts to clarify: Praise is telling someone that you recognized that they did something positive. It can come in many forms: positive feedback, a complement, thank you gifts, unexpected time off, a thank you note, a pat on the back, etc..
2. Why is it important for the best managers to praise their employees?
Everyone wants affirmation and praise is one of the easiest ways to affirm the hard work of others. Giving praise will help retain good employees and it certainly goes a long way in motivating others.
3. Can you have too much of a good thing?
Probably. But how many managers have you worked for that gave too much praise? Considering all the potential benefits, it might be a risk worth taking if you want to learn how to motivate people.
4. So why don’t all managers do this?
Here are a few reasons managers cite for why they don’t practice good praise-giving habits:
- Not enough time
- Lack of praise from their own managers
- Employees that work remotely
- Too many employees that report to them
- Undeserving employees
- Not comfortable saying nice things
A manager who uses one of the above excuses either doesn’t see the value in motivating people through praise-giving or he/she doesn’t know how to do it effectively. The best managers will learn and adapt. Is that you?
5. How do I give praise effectively? Is it something that a manager can screw up or will employees appreciate that I at least tried?
The keys to giving praise are:
- Timeliness – Don’t wait too long to give it.
- Sincerity – Don’t make stuff up, look for good things and when they happen, give praise for them.
- Specific – Describe the behavior or action you noticed and why that behavior or action was a good thing.
6. If I haven’t been giving praise, how can I start without it looking like I just attended charm school?
Practice giving praise to other people in your life – your spouse, kids, family, waiters and waitresses, nurses, teachers, etc… Surely your spouse won't mind the extra charm. After you're comfortable saying nice things, just start adding it in to your routine at work.
7. Is it okay to praise my boss – or is that “sucking up?”
It is okay to praise your boss as long as your intentions are sincere and not just say…right before you are going to ask for a raise.
Hopefully next time someone asks you, "So, how DO you motivate people?" you'll have a swift answer for them - the gift of sincere praise. Feel free to follow this guide above or make a few of your own rules and share them with us. Best of luck in your newfound quest to motivate employees and become the best manager in your circle of influence!