We’ve all read the books about how employees desperately need praise and managers need to praise them as much as possible.
There’s no question that some managers are stingy about praise and need to be reminded to give more of it. It may even be true that there is a “praise deficit” in most organizations.
But spreading praise like peanut butter throughout the organization is not the answer. Praise, unfortunately, isn’t as simple as it sounds.
Example: What does it mean when you’re talking to your boss and he looks at his watch and says, “This has been an interesting conversation; keep up the good work”?
Does it mean he thinks you’re a fascinating person and a high-value employee? Or that he’s eager to get back to work? It could be the latter. The boss used “praise” to get you out of his office.
Another example: In a meeting you present an idea and the leader says, “Joe that’s a great idea. Maybe we can get back to it later.” The leader “praised” your idea, right? Not likely. Sounds more like she thought your idea was off-target and didn’t want it to disrupt her meeting.
So there are two examples of how managers used praise to do the precise opposite of praise. And guess what? Employees will spot it every time you deliver praise the wrong way.
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