When was the last time you complimented a subordinate on a job well done? If you are a manager, hopefully it hasn’t been too long! Praise can improve morale and productivity, motivating workers, improving retention rates and ultimately benefiting the bottom line. But there is an art to creating a culture of appreciation — empty words alone won’t cut it. Here are some tips:
- Act quickly: TLNT, a human resources publication, reminds managers to offer up a compliment as soon as you notice something praiseworthy. Wait too long and the impact of your words will diminish. You are also more likely to forget if you delay.
- Consider different personality types: Remember to consider personality types when showing appreciation at work. If you personally value concrete rewards, you may assume that employees know that they are important to the company based on their yearly bonuses. However, workers who respond more to verbal affirmation may not feel valued if they don’t hear praise after a job well done.
- Emphasize details: Fast Company contributors Sebastian Bailey and Octavius Black advise giving detailed praise, both because it is more meaningful and because it encourages similar behavior down the road. “By just saying ‘Thanks for the report; it was great,’ you are not giving the person anything they can use and apply in the future,” Bailey and Black write. “Was the report great because it was long, had pictures, started with a succinct summary, included questions for the reader to answer, or what? The best praise focuses on specifics.”
- Praise in public: Celebrating employees’ achievements in front of their coworkers can increase their sense of validation, while also helping to create a culture of appreciation. Try highlighting the hard work of an individual or even an entire department, either at a company-wide meeting or perhaps in a group email. Just be sure that praising one worker doesn’t seem to implicitly criticize another — that can quickly turn a positive interaction into a negative one.
- Set goals: Some experts say that positive reinforcement is most effective when delivered on weekly or even daily basis. Set concrete, scheduled goals for yourself for offering regular praise to each and every employee or department you oversee. You may even want to create a “praise calendar,” on which you can keep track of how often you have highlighted someone’s good work. Many managers might be surprised to learn they are expressing gratitude far less often than they think.
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