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The 6 Keys to Effective Employee Praise

"Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers."
Stephen R. Covey

Although the practice of giving praise to employees may seem pretty straightforward, many managers have never learned how to do so effectively. Applying the following 6 guidelines will help your managers make the best use of this essential component of management:

  1. Soon : Timing is critical and the praise meant to honor a particular achievement or action should come as soon after that achievement as possible. If it takes too long to recognize desired action, the gesture will lose its significance.

  2. Personally : The most effective forms of recognition are the most personal ones. Recognition through email or voicemail is certainly appreciated but praise in person means much more.

  3. Sincerely : All praise must be based on a true appreciation of, and excitement about, the other person's success. Otherwise, any thanks may come across as manipulative rather than genuine.

  4. Positively : Do not qualify praise with criticism or corrective feedback. Ensure that acts of praise are just that.

  5. Specifically : Avoid generalities in favor of details of the achievement. Compliments that are too generic tend to seem insincere. Specifics give credibility to your praise - emphasize the need to say what employees did well and why those efforts were of value.

  6. Proactively : It is important to praise progress that goes toward meeting specific goals. Don't wait for perfect performance before you praise employees - recognize performance and behavior that help meet your organization's goals and objectives.

The act of delivering simple and direct recognition for a job well done is extremely easy to do, yet in many organizations, it happens rarely if at all. Making the extra effort to appreciate your employees' contributions to your organization will pay off in improved job satisfaction, productivity and retention.

Robert Gray

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