I bet you’re really tired of people telling you how good you are at your job. I bet you especially loathe it when someone commends you for a task well done.
It’s smarter to wager that your response to the above statements was an adamant “No I’m not!”
So why is it that so many managers have such a difficult time giving positive feedback?
“That’s what they should be doing.”
“They’ll expect more money if I do.”
“I’ll say something next time I get a chance.”
My reason for failing to praise is more personal. It makes me uncomfortable. I want to provide positive reinforcement, but it comes out sounding trite and insincere. When I deliver praise, my attitude is passive. I speak more quietly than usual, divert my eyes, slump my shoulders, and I bet I even blush.
Admiring others’ traits and and work comes naturally to me. Praising them for a job well done does not.
Still, I recognize the importance of positive feedback. It’s a leadership skill I work on every day. Here are Seven Tips for Praising Others:
1. Just do it.
Practice makes perfect when it comes to delivering praise. The best way to avoid feeling uncomfortable praising someone is to just do it until it begins to feel more natural.
2. Do it immediately.
Don’t reserve your praise for a time that feels more comfortable. Praise others as they earn it. This helps make the feedback more exciting and authenic.
3. Praise publicly.
Those of us who aren’t comfortable giving praise might be tempted to do so in private settings, like during a one-on-one conversation or via email. This undermines the power of being recognized for a job well done. It also negates the positive impact of making others desire to perform praiseworthy actions.
4. Be sincere.
Don’t give praise just to give it. It means more to the recipient if it’s about something they recognize as praiseworthy. It lessens the impact of your positive feedback if you’re just trying to fulfill some kind of daily quota.
5. Be specific.
Leaders give the best praise when they know what employees are trying to improve upon, take notes about specific successes and provide positive feedback on those things.
6. Don’t have an ulterior motive.
Praise should never be used as a buffer to ease the irritation of requesting more work. Keep feedback and assignments separate.
7. Go over the top.
If you’re already embarrassed by praise, why not go all the way? Make providing positive feedback a regular, fun part of your organization’s structure. We used to have a “kudos” box in the student newsroom. Students could nominate one another for a job well done that week. During staff meeting, I read the kudos aloud and threw Kudos bars to the rewarded staffers. It was dorky and fun.
Bosses tend to overestimate the amount of praise they give. Perhaps because doing so makes us uncomfortable. Let’s try it anyway.
Of course, there’s always the option of sitting in your office comfort zone and avoiding the embarrassment of saying nice things. I bet you won’t have to worry about people interrupting you to tell you what a great boss you are.
Let’s Talk Nerdy!
There’s no place quite as public as the Internet. Who should you be praising and why? Take a minute to give them a shout out right here.