Compensation is a right, but praise is a gift.
I’m amazed, but perhaps I shouldn’t be. I’ve been speaking around the world for about 20 years, and I still hear the same complaint I heard back in the 80’s. Employees complain they can do a hundred things right and not hear a thing about it. They do one thing wrong, and someone’s right on their back.
When I ask managers about this complaint, I get several responses. Some say, “Yeah, I know I should be giving out more praise, but I just forget” or “I’m too busy.” The more cynical ones say, “Look, I pay people to do their jobs. I don’t have to praise them.”
No, you don’t have to praise your employees, or your colleagues, for that matter. But let’s get right to the bottom line. People will work harder and accomplish more with a paycheck and praise than they will with just a plain old paycheck. So there’s a payoff when you praise — if you praise correctly.
So let me extract a couple of nuggets from my program on “Peak Performance: Motivating The Best In Others.” Let these nuggets guide you in becoming more effective in your work with others.
First, NEVER LET GOOD WORK GO UNNOTICED. WHEN YOU SEE IT, SAY IT. People ask me all kinds of questions about timing. When is it the right time or best time to praise someone for something he/she did? Almost always, the best time to praise good work is at the very moment you notice it. If you wait, you run the risk of forgetting or the other person thinking you didn’t care or didn’t notice.
Second, WHEN YOU SAY IT, SPECIFY “IT.” If you give general praise, like “atta boy…good job… nice work… terrific,” the recipient may think you’re just saying it, that you don’t really mean it. After all, general praise is almost effortless and could be almost mindless. But when you describe exactly what you liked in the other person’s performance, he/she knows that you know what you’re talking about.
Third, WHEN YOU SPECIFY IT, PERSONALIZE IT. In other words, use the other person’s name. Everyone’s been trained to listen more carefully to those sentences that include his/her name. It just works better to say “Anne, I really appreciate the extra time you put into the project,” instead of saying “Thanks.”
Action: This week give the gift of praise five times. Give a compliment to five different people using the guidelines outlined above. To make sure you don’t forget, put five pennies in your left pocket, or some such place, and each time you give a compliment, move a penny from your left pocket to your right pocket. When all five pennies are in your right pocket, you’ve accomplished your mission.