EFFORTLESS WAYS ON HOW PRAISE AND RECOGNITION CAN CHANGE ATTITUDE @ Home, Work and School

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“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.

Network Monitoring AccountFIRST, 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:

  1. Praise is the number one tool available to you to release energy and motivation in your people.
  2. 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.

Time To Grow UpThese 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.

 Delivering praise

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.

Seeking Recognition

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.

pexels-photo-886465.jpegTIPS IN GIVING PRAISE AND RECOGNITION

  1. Never WAIT!

The more time that passes between great performance and recognition, the lower the impact of that recognition. Immediately is never too soon.

  1. 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

  1. Be specific

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.

Exper ExperienceAnd remember:

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.

pexels-photo-764681.jpeg

Good luck

As of old: BE EMPOWERED and EXCEL

Aside

ESSENTIAL SKILLS FOR ACADEMIC WRITING IN ENGLISH@HIGH SCHOOL

  • What is academic writing style?
  • When do I have to use it?
  • Are there different types of styles?
  • How is an academic paper structured?

By the time students are in high school, rudimentary elements of ‘academic style’ of writing will have been sowed. But, what does it mean?

There may be slightly different ideas on the matter within different departments but there are some basic approaches to academic writing on which all would agree.

Every department or person has their own, individual style of writing and we would probably all recognize that we write in different ways in different circumstances: formal or informal ways.

However, academic writing always has a different set of audience. It is going to be read by others. This means what you are going to write has to be easily understood by the reader – who is probably going to be the marker.

There are certain conventions – ways of writing – that students have to understand and follow in their approach to an academic piece of writing.

TEN BASIC APPROACHES

  1. Read academic books and journals as models to imitate. As you engage yourself in the reading, ask yourself questions about: how are the paragraphs structured and why particular words/expressions are used.
  2. As you are writing, consider whether your writing sounds as if it could be in an academic book. If it does, that is a good sign. If it sounds like a chat with a friend, you will need to revise it.
  3. Think about your readers and express your ideas with clarity.
  4. Academic writing – mainly involving extended writing tasks, coursework or research papers at High School have to stick to certain rules and regulations.
  5. Academic writing tends to be impersonal, objective and cautious avoiding sweeping statements or generalisations.
  6. Always make sure to back up everything you say with evidence from reliable sources unless it can be considered as “common knowledge”. Carrying out research through appropriate reading is essential. By providing evidence or justification through, whatever sources one uses – books, websites, journals, – must be accurately referenced.
  7. Strike a balance. This means in your writing, you must include examples of ideas that disagree with what you are saying as well as ones that support it. It will also show that you have read widely and thought about your topic from different perspectives.
  8. Show your understanding of your topic. Define key terms in the first body paragraph – these are better off being researched upon than a mere dictionary meaning.
  9. Your writing must have a logical structure. Structure your paragraphs well, and if the Department encourages sub-headings, so be it.
  10. The need for referencing is important. Whenever you use someone else’s ideas, whether quoting verbatim or not, you must let your reader know your source. Lastly, you will then need to list all the sources you have used in your work.

      STRUCTURE OF AN ACADEMIC PAPER – TOP TIPS

  1. There is a generally agreed rule in academic circles that the first person – that is “I”, “we”, “my” etc – should never be used. Similarly “you” should not be used as well.  The key here is that it makes your writing sound more objective and impersonal.
  •           Avoid “I” or “you” by using “one:”                                                                                                   One could argue that …. or If one is in such a situation, one could….
  •          Avoid “you” and “I” by starting with an impersonal “it:”                                                        It can be considered/argued/claimed that ….
  1. Write a thesis statement. It is a statement that focuses your ideas into one or two sentences. It should present the topic of your paper and also make a comment about your position in relation to the topic. It can be placed at the beginning or end of the introductory paragraph.                                                                                                               Your thesis statement should tell your reader what the paper is about and also help guide your writing and keep your argument focused.
  1. Avoiding problems of “expression” – Some students end up with problems of whether to use “his” or “her”. It is always easier to use plurals as in:                                  For example: A student is encouraged to check his / her essay carefully.                              Instead it is simpler to say: Students should be encouraged to check their essays carefully.
  •  Sentence structure is an issue. Using very long complex sentences can be confusing for the reader.  It is often better to use short sentences as they add clarity.
  • Always write in full sentences. Sentence fragments will always be marked down.
  • Avoid repeating the same word in a single paragraph. Always try to find an alternative.
  • Never use humor or irony in academic writing.
  1. Choose the right words and spellings. Remember that when you are writing for a U.K. audience, you will need to use British English, and not American English spelling, for example “colour”, not “color”.
  2. Always try to avoid informal words. It is advisable to think of your word choice and use those used in academic books or journals rather than magazines.
  3. Use words –technical terms if need be – that are appropriate for your area of study. Literary terms give precise meaning to your work, thereby adding clarity.
  4. Referencing: As soon as you start to research and read for any academic assignment, make sure you note down all the details of what you are reading, so that the correct information can be included in your references.  Every important fact and idea needs to be referenced.
  5. The Structure Of A Typical Academic Paragraph

     As a general rule remember ‘one point = one paragraph’.

    Paragraphs may differ in many ways, but a typical academic paragraph should contain THREE main things:

    a) A topic sentence (or Point)

    b) Evidence to support the point in your topic sentence (usually an external source but sometimes your own data or own examples).

    c) Analysis of why the point is important and how it helps you answer the question (your explanation).

    Some scholars like to use acronyms like

    • PEE (Point, Evidence, Explanation) or
    • TEA (Topic, Evidence, Analysis) or
    • WEED (What the paragraph is about, Evidence to support, Examples, Do say ‘so what?’).

    It doesn’t matter how you remember it, the important thing to remember is that all three things are needed.

  6. Boosting Your Grades

    It is in the Explanation/Analysis part of your paragraphs that you will gain credit for showing an ability to discuss and analyse the facts and arguments you have presented.

    This involves a personal evaluation, arguing the pros and cons, illustrating advantages and disadvantages, taking an argument apart and looking at each point, or following it through and extrapolating i.e. continuing the same line of argument (perhaps into other areas) to see where it would lead, or giving counter arguments.

  7. Conclusion

    A conclusion should not be a reworking of everything you have previously stated in your essay.  It is, instead, as crucial to the overall success of your essay as the other sections.  The conclusion needs to be a carefully constructed paragraph that ‘completes’ your argument.

    It is an opportunity to leave the reader with a set of final, original ideas about the text that you have created yourself.  You should try to make a lasting impact in your conclusion, creating a paragraph that your reader remembers and show your own individual, intellectual and emotional engagement with the text that you are writing about.

  8. Proof Reading

Always allow time for proof reading your work.  As a proof reading exercise, the                      mechanical process of checking through a document for error of:                                          Spelling, Punctuation, Grammar, Syntax, Repetition (of words, phrases or ideas) but also errors of fact is an essential undertaking.

You will also need to check that the work is divided into paragraphs of suitable (but          varied) length, each as far as possible devoted to a discrete idea or aspect of the subject.

It is all about accuracy and therefore clarity of meaning, since the more inaccurate the         piece of academic writing is, the more its clarity will be compromised.

     TOP PROOFREADING TIPS

  • NEVER rely on the computer’s spelling and grammar checker to do the work for you. This is fatal!  It is extremely unreliable.
  • Run the Spell and Grammar Checker software first BUT remember that you will still need to check the work yourself afterwards.
  • If your document is not too long, try printing it out. Often errors can be seen on paper but not noticed on a computer screen.
  • Leave time (-24 to 48 hours is recommended) between the end of the writing process and the start of proofreading. This time length helps clear the mind then approaching the same topic more refreshed and therefore with a better chance of spotting errors.
  • Try proofreading backwards! It is weird, right?  Essentially, reading your work from the end to the beginning – either sentence by sentence or paragraph by paragraph – destroys the flow of argument and sequencing of ideas or chronology; thus forcing the brain to look only for mechanical error in the text.
  • Watch out for repetition of certain words or phrases – ring the changes by fixing them: you could be changing by using a pronoun to replace the repetitive noun; or use an alternative work or synonym.
  • The human eye often skims words – i.e we see only parts of words and complete the rest by assumption from meaning or context rather than by sight. This is why we often fail to spot spelling mistakes, for example.  So train yourself consciously to read (i.e. observe) all parts of every word.
  • Collaborate with others (fellow students, colleagues, guardians / parents) to check (each other’s) work. Normally, another pair of eyes will often spot errors which your own have missed.

It is all yours now. Good luck.