“A brave man acknowledges the strength of others.” ― Veronica Roth
“Beware of those who criticize you when you deserve some praise for an achievement, for it is they who secretly desire to be worshiped.” ― Suzy Kassem,
“You can always tell when someone deserves the praise and recognition they receive, because it humbles them rather than inflating their ego.” ― Ashly Lorenzana
“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” – Stephen R. Covey
“In the arena of human life, the honors and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities in action.”– Aristotle
The above quotes are illustrative of how we realise the power and influence of praise and recognition in our day to day living. Through motivating others, be it individuals or team members, offering praise and recognition for a job well done can be an extremely powerful tool in changing dynamics at work, school or home.
FIRST, here’s a fun exercise:
- Think of your current line manager – On a scale of one to ten (one being the worst) rate their skills of recognizing, praising and rewarding hard work and achievement.
- Now rate yourself: How well do you recognize and praise your students; employees, colleagues or your own children?
Certainly, that exercise might not have been quite as fun.
Why do we need praise?
There is no secret on how being praised often makes people feel good. Human aspects of pride, pleasure and increased feelings of self-esteem are all common reactions to being paid a compliment or receiving positive feedback, be it from colleagues, senior management OR even from our students!
It seems praise aims at fulfilling two important functions:
- Praise is the number one tool available to you to release energy and motivation in your people.
- Praise educates the people around you regarding what you like about their approach and encourages them to do more of it.
This is because being praised triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that mediates pleasure in the brain. It is released during pleasurable situations and stimulates one to seek out the pleasurable activity or occupation. It helps in controlling the reward and pleasure centres of the brain. As well as making us feel good, dopamine can also contribute to innovative thinking and creative problem-solving at work.
These positive effects, however, are relatively short-lived, and for praise to have an enduring impact on employees, students or children’s engagement, it needs to be offered regularly. A senior employee at famous performance management consultancy, the Gallup Organisation hinted that “recognition is a short-term need that has to be satisfied on an ongoing basis”. Furthermore, in another Gallup research, it reported that employees who report that they are not adequately recognised at work are three times more likely to say they will leave in the following year.
The impact of praise
Psychologists and researchers have long been fascinated by the effects of praise on workplace performance and behaviour, and what this means for organisations. In a survey of more than four million employees about the importance of praise and recognition conducted by Gallup Organisation the results were fascinating:
- employees who receive regular praise are more productive, engaged and more likely to stay with their organisation than those who do not.
- employees who are praised receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers.
- employees who are recognized for their efforts even enjoy better health than employees who are not.
There is a great deal of empirical evidence suggesting how praising employees at work can be beneficial. However, the most important aspect in which the praise is delivered has a significant bearing on its effectiveness. Research points out that only genuine achievements should be praised, and that empty words have little or no value.
Indeed, it is alleged that ‘unearned praise can do more harm to an individual and a workgroup than none at all’. It not only prevents employees from knowing when they need to improve, but it can diminish the impact of the genuine praise that is offered at other times.
Similarly, students or children who are praised for being inherently ‘good’ at something are less likely to take on new challenges than those who are praised for their approach to the task. When it comes to praising students or children, Carol Dweck, a psycholgist’s advice is to ‘focus on the processes they used – their strategies, effort or choices’.
Research highlights the value of constructive feedback; where managers should be specific about which aspects of their team members’ performance have particularly impressed them and why.
There’s little doubt that praising and recognising the efforts and achievements of others can bring about some very positive results in the workplace. Being praised makes the recipient
- feel good about themselves
- help to boost their performance
- experience an ‘uplift’ that can increase employee’s morale, motivation and engagement
- renew their commitment to their manager and the organisation.
For praise to have this kind of impact, however, it needs to be delivered effectively.
Only genuine achievements should be praised, and managers should ensure their feedback is constructive and specific.
Recognition is being seen to be good or bad in some act. It can be either positive or negative. Effective recognition has the following characteristics:
- It is positive in nature
- It is immediately connected to performance
- It is specific about what is being praised
- It is close to the action
We want and cherish praise and recognition in determining the values of our school or organization. Thus, in today’s world, praise and recognition are communication vehicles for that which is deemed important. The top tips below are tried and tested techniques to praise and recognition.
TIPS IN GIVING PRAISE AND RECOGNITION
The more time that passes between great performance and recognition, the lower the impact of that recognition. Immediately is never too soon.
Credit where credit’s due
It’s no secret that both giving and receiving praise makes us feel good: we’re psychologically wired to function in a receive-give and give-receive kind of environment. When we feel a sense of pride and satisfaction in what we’ve achieved, our brain releases the hormone dopamine, immediately awakening the reward and pleasure areas of our brain
Generic praise is nice but specific praise is wonderful. Don’t just tell an employee you did a good job; tell them how they did a good job. Not only will they appreciate the gesture, but will also know you pay attention to what they do.
The added impetus is that they will know exactly what to do the next time in a similar situation.
4. Be genuine
Never praise for the sake of praising. It will become obvious to everyone if it is “forced” and will lessen the impact when you really do mean what you say: the real praise and recognition.
5. Save constructive feedback for later
Many of our bosses, albeit inherently, toss in a little feedback while praising a colleague or employee. They will say “how great you did . . . but next time you might want to consider . . .” Oh! No! It just leaves a sour taste to the praise as “. . . all I hear is what I should do next time.”
Advice: Praise and recognize now! It is better to save performance improvement opportunities later.
6. Go hunting
Are you one of those bosses who are conditioned to spending time looking for issues or problems to correct and resolve? If so, it will do you a lot of good by just spending a little time trying to catch colleagues or employees doing good things, too.
7. Be surprising at some point
Birthday presents are nice, but unexpected gifts make an even bigger impact. Unexpected recognition is always more powerful, too. Winning “Employee of the Week” is nice, but receiving a surprise visit from the owner because you won back a lost client is awesome.
8. Strike a balance
It is much easier to recognize some of your best employees because they are consistently doing great things. However, finding ways to spread the positive vibe around is golden.
Whilst it is going to be hard to find reasons to recognize some of the less than stellar employees, the fact that they are there means they are part of the team. By giving just a little encouragement may be all a poor or average performer needs to turn the productivity corner.
9. Create a CULTURE
By making praise and recognition something you measure, may at first sound cheesy and forced, but the more it is done, the quicker it will be embraced.
The ripple effect to it is that peer pressure and natural competitiveness are promoted. Employees become happy to assist and accomplish things worthy of praise so as to report great stuff to the boss or fellow colleagues.
10. Treat employees like snowflakes
We all respond differently to praise and recognition. There are many of us who may appreciate public praise but, then equally so, there are those among us, who just want a quiet word. Some of us cringe when made the centre of attraction.
Surely, knowing your employees, students or children and tailoring your recognition so it produces the greatest impact for each individual is a bonus.
Dear Boss, just remember that:
Recognizing our effort and achievement is self-reinforcing. When you do a better job of recognizing us, we tend to perform better. We will come to work happy, ready and eager to perform because we know we are a TEAM as Together Everyone Achieves More.
So dear folks, praise and recognition are essential building blocks of a great workplace. We all possess the need to be recognized as individuals and to feel a sense of accomplishment. There is nothing complicated about recognition, but it is one of the items that consistently receives the lowest ratings from our bosses.
Let me hope that, that room for improvement, is now. Let us start with our little ones and build it up from there.
Good luck in all your endeavours.