The Power of Workplace Praise

May 31, 2022


Everyone appreciates praise for a job well done. Even better, consistent praise increases our motivation and bolsters the bottom line. Praise inspires employees to work harder, makes coworkers feel appreciated, and helps organizations hold on to their best people. Here are some of the many benefits and ways to offer powerful workplace praise.

Specific praise works best
Although polite compliments like “Wonderful work!” or “Outstanding report!” are fine, they can come across as shallow—or insincere. Detailed praise goes much further. It makes recipients feel seen and appreciated. For example, telling someone: “Because of your insight, we found the best solution, one that will increase sales,” is both specific and motivating.

Praise should always be authentic
People instantly see overblown or unwarranted praise for what it is—an empty gesture. Only sincere praise engages people, while building their confidence and their trust. (Studies show that those who rarely receive recognition think their managers do not trust them.)

Praise your top workers and colleagues 
Praise for exceptional work inspires everyone to continue to work at their highest level. Say something like: "Thanks for your hard work on X project. Staying late three nights last week helped us deliver it on time and under budget!”   

Praise steady, reliable workers
Find opportunities to thank people who work on necessary but “unshowy,” repetitive tasks. Often, these “under-the-radar” efforts go unacknowledged, and folks start to lose interest in their work. Why put in the effort if no one seems to care?

Praise people who are floundering
Recognize these folks for everything they’re doing right. This can help boost their self-esteem and turn around iffy performances. For example: “I’m happy to see that you’ve mastered taking meeting minutes. I know you’ll continue to ace this.” If appropriate, give that person a new task, then recognize everything they succeed at.

Give public praise 
Recognize employees at staff meetings, especially after significant accomplishments. Public praise is even more powerful than private compliments. (But know which of your colleagues and employees are more comfortable receiving praise one-on-one.) 

Link praise to a larger purpose
Remind people of what their work is accomplishing—for themselves, the organization, and their community. They’ll work harder, reach goals faster, and have more pride in their achievements. People need to know why their work matters.

Make praise a habit
It can’t be said too often: Consistent praise costs nothing, shows you care, and results in happier, more motivated teams.

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