It Pays to Praise: 8 tips to effectively praise your employees and boost productivity

Here’s an interesting exercise that will take you less than a minute: Think about an old boss you didn’t enjoy. On a scale of one to 10, how would you rate their skills of recognising, praising, and rewarding your hard work and achievement during your employ?

If you’re like most people, you probably give them a three, or at best a four.

Now this next exercise may not be as fun, try rating yourself as a boss. How well do you recognise, praise and reward your employees?

Are you beginning to wonder what score your employees would give you?

Effective employee recognition is mostly art, not science. That’s why most formal recognition and reward programs rarely deliver what they promise. Today’s savvy employees can spot an insincere, “employee of the month” recognition program a mile away.

So, consider scrapping the formal programs, and give these 8 tips on how to give your hard-working employees the recognition they deserve a try! We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with both the results and how little extra time and effort it takes on your behalf to achieve an eight, nine or even ten on that first exercise!

  1. Don’t Wait – Immediate recognition and praise is the ticket! The more time that passes between great performance and recognition, the lower the impact it will have. If you see one of your team going over and above, or hear about it through the grapevine, be sure to act on it immediately.
  2. Don’t Generalise – Generic praise is alright but specific praise is amazing. Don’t just tell an employee they did a great job; tell them how they did a good job and why that is so important and wonderful. Not only will they appreciate the gesture, they know that you are paying attention and will remember exactly what to do the next time they are in a similar situation.
  3. Be genuine – Don’t just wander around the floor at 1pm every day handing out “good jobs” or “atta boys and girls”. Praise for the sake of praising is obvious and underwhelming. Say what you mean and mean what you say when it comes to praise and recognition.
  4. Praise Now, Improve Later – Don’t give backhanded compliments to your team. You know what we mean… “Hey Tim, that was really great how you handled the customer’s complaint, but next time you might try…” the compliment is missed and the focus lands on what they can do better. Praise and recognise immediately. Save performance improvement opportunities for later and preferably in private.
  5. Be vigilant – As managers, you’re trained to constantly look for issues and problems you can solve, however, proactively looking to catch employees doing great things is just as important.
  6. Be spontaneous – Getting a mention in the company eNews or on the staff room noticeboard is “nice” but receiving a surprise gift because a patron raved about their customer service during a tough situation, would blow them away and make them feel so valued.
  7. Find a balance – You’re always going to have a few people in your team that are consistently overperforming, however, balancing the “amazing” with the “trying to get to amazing” is important too. You may have to work a little harder to find reasons to recognise some of your less than stellar employees, but that’s okay, maybe all they need is a bit of encouragement to turn a corner on their productivity.
  8. Tailor your Praise – Each member of your team is a unique individual. While some people appreciate public praise, more introverted staff could cringe at the attention spotlight. Get to know your team personally and tailor your recognition for each member, that way you’ll achieve the greatest impact for each individual.

And remember… Recognising effort and achievement is self-reinforcing. When you do a better job of recognising your employees, they tend to perform better, which increases productivity, raises morale and gives you even more opportunities to lavish praise on their achievements.

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