People blossom on praise. Though all of us need praise to help make us feel great about ourselves, you can’t praise people arbitrarily: Praise should be reserved for endeavors worthy of singular acknowledgment. So, how do you deal with folks who rarely do anything rather praiseworthy?
My pal Minnie faced this situation in her team of clerks at work. Several lazy clerks had the outlook that, as long as they fulfilled their quotas, they were okay. Praising them for hitting quotas only toughened their belief that nothing more was expected of them. Censure of their failure to exceed the quota was met with the response “I’m simply doing my job.”
Minnie decided to try positive reinforcement. She gave one of the operators an extraordinary project for which no production quota had been set. When the duty was completed, Minnie praised the employee’s fine work. She pursued this practice with novel assignments and ultimately enjoyed the opportunity to earnestly praise each of the clerks.
Now, while praise can motivate people in a twinkling, it doesn’t always work. Some manager praise every trifling activity, diminishing the value of praise for real accomplishments. Others sprinkle praise in such a way that it appears fake. To make your praise more meaningful, follow these tips:
1. Never overdo it. Praise is saccharine. Rockcandy is sweet, too, but the more you gorge, the less tasty each piece becomes, and you may get a tummy upset. Liberal praise reduces the benefit that’s derived from each bite of praise; if it’s overcooked, it loses its value forever.
2. Always be earnest. You can’t fake sincerity. You must really believe that what you are praising your associate for is actually admirable. If you don’t trust it yourself, neither will your colleague.
3. Follow the rule of specificity. Rather than smile, “Great work!” it’s much better to say, “The task you accomplished on the XXX project enabled me to recognize more clearly the complexities of the issue.”
4. Solicit for your colleague’s advice. Nothing can be more flattering than to be asked for advice about how to ease a problem. This approach can backfire nonetheless, if you don’t heed the advice. If you have to rebuff advice, ask people questions about their deficient proposals until they see the error of their ways and reissue sound advice.
5. Always publicize praise. Just as a chastise should always be doled in private, praising should be trumpeted (whenever possible) in public. Sometimes the theme for which praise is given is a private matter, but it’s more often suitable to let your entire group in on the praise. If other colleagues are conscious of the praise you give a subordinate, it urges them to work for similar recognition.
Joseph Plazo is a renowned success coach. He teaches NLP techniques and negotiation skills while helping people find great jobs in the Philippines [http://www.jobcentralasia.com].