“A person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.
Praise and recognition are great motivators for all of us. Moments where we received praise from a senior or a colleague on something we did well are often etched in our memories, giving us a sense of confidence, pride, and accomplishment, egging us to do more and do better. Numerous studies have explored the direct correlation between positive verbal reinforcement and human behavior.
In offices, employees thrive on appreciation and encouragement, which can sometimes be more rewarding than money. Receiving praise for hard work boosts self-esteem, gives employees a sense of pride, and improves work performance. All of this cultivates a nourishing workplace for employees and helps the overall organization grow.
What are the different ways you can praise a fellow colleague, team member, or junior? Here are a few suggestions:
- Use descriptors and outcomes to make praise more effective.
When praising, try to be as specific as possible on what is being appreciated. This fosters a sense of trust in employees, boosts engagement, and strengthens their relationship with the organization and you.
Example: “Good planning on the project, Linda! Your foresight helped smooth things over with the vendors” is more effective than simply saying “Good work, Linda.”
It highlights to Linda the specific way her contribution made an impact and informs those listening to the praise on how she helped. This type of praise also tells employees that the praise is genuine and not simply an obligation being fulfilled.
- Be mindful of people’s personalities when praising.
Some people like to be appreciated publicly while others are more comfortable receiving recognition in private. Individualization is key for meaningful rewards; try to understand the preference of your employees, i.e., whether they prefer to be praised in front of the team or with a one-to-one commendation.
Example: Writing a ‘thank you’ note or a personal email or verbally praising someone during a personal meeting are some ways leaders can praise someone in private.
- Acknowledge performance by increasing visibility.
Employees who enjoy challenging themselves may find an added role or a challenging project a true measure of recognition. It is important to pair this with meaningful praise, so that they understand that the new experience aims to further enhance their skills and career.
Example: Providing increased visibility, flexibility and autonomy, choice of working assignments, active involvement in decision making, or discussing how to handle a mistake, are all part of added responsibilities and great motivators.
- Use professional development opportunities to showcase appreciation.
95% of millennials feel that the key to career success is learning. By giving your people learning opportunities, you allow them to nurture their skills while helping the team and the organization retain talent. Teaming up with employees in this way also demonstrates your commitment to their future, which can earn deep loyalty.
Example: Include them in select internal training programs or special lunchtime learning activities. Invite them to attend industry conferences where they can discover more about their niche. You can even provide an option to enroll for exclusive courses in prestigious universities that have ties to your organization.
‘Different strokes for different folks’, so we recommend experimenting with these four options to see which ones are most effective for your team!