Many employees list recognition as a major motivator in the workplace, and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like receiving a compliment from time to time. But doling out praise isn’t always as simple as it sounds and, if it isn’t done properly, it can actually make your employees uncomfortable.
So, how do you guarantee that the praise you give will be properly received? By keeping these tips in mind.
This is a fairly simple rule to follow; if you don’t mean it, don’t say it. You will rarely fool someone if a compliment is forced. To help ensure your praise is authentic, make sure you only recognize actions that deserve the attention.
Praise shouldn’t be a way to fill a lull in the conversation, or as a daily icebreaker. Instead, it should have meaning every time, so let it be natural.
When giving a compliment, it is important to focus. Select a single point to praise and don’t deviate from that plan. Stringing together multiple compliments based on a wide array of activities can easily feel overdone (unless it is a retirement party). Over time, your praise will lose its impact and some people may even become suspicious of your motives.
Praise that references a specific effort carries more weight than general ones. For example, complimenting someone on their recent sales presentation has a bigger impact than just thanking them for being a great employee.
Being specific shows that you are interested in the activities of your employees and gives you an opportunity to engage with them directly.
If an employee does something that is praiseworthy, don’t wait to give them the compliment they deserve. By making the statement now, they can easily attach the praise to the event. The longer you wait, the more difficult it is for the employee to find meaning in the statement. Praise is something that can never be delivered too soon, but it can certainly be given too late.
Certain compliments require specific circumstances. For example, noticing a new haircut might be a suitable opportunity to offer a compliment, but it needs to be well timed. For example, if you are exchanging pleasantries while riding the elevator in the morning, mentioning that you like their new style may be appropriate. However, bringing it up in the middle of a department-level staff meeting might just make them uncomfortable.
In contrast, appreciation for a person’s hard work on a large project that is expressed in front of other higher-level managers may be more appreciated than praise given in private. Not only will the employee get the benefits associated with being recognized, but they also understand that you valued the contribution to the point of wanting others to know about their success.