Great Job.

Really good idea.

Top-notch work.

You’ve no doubt heard yourself compliment people this way many times. And it makes you feel like a good manager. After all, the experts all tell us to praise, praise, praise because employees are starving for recognition.

Unfortunately, nothing in management is simple. And the praise you’re giving employees could be having precisely the OPPOSITE effect that you’re intending. That’s right. You could be demotivating your people by praising them.

Simple example: You’re running a meeting. Jill presents an idea. You say, “Really good idea, Jill,” and then move on to the next agenda item.

You just praised Jill, but how does she feel? Completely deflated. You ignored her idea and gave it a cheap brushoff.

Fact is, praise is used for all sorts of things besides praising people, and your employees know it. Only the most attentive managers really understand how to use praise effectively.

How? By using it for its own sake, not for another purpose. Don’t use praise to sidestep an issue, or to soften the blow of criticism, or as a preamble to dumping piles of new work on an employee at the last minute. Or even as a “motivational” technique. You have to mean it, or it’s better not offering it at all.

photo credit: SashaW

12 Comments

  • Jen says:

    I’ve never personally thought my boss was being disingenuous in giving out praise. Yeah, I’ve gotten blown off by my boss before, but I’ve always had the sense that I got proper credit for the work I’ve done.

  • Mrfaisalsiddiqui says:

    Stephen, I have been reading some of your articles of late, must say the are really enriching.Good job.F

  • Mrfaisalsiddiqui says:

    Stephen, I have been reading some of your articles of late, must say the are really enriching.Good job.F

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