In earlier articles when we talked about the complexity of praising employees, we emphasized the surprising number of pitfalls.

Now let’s look at a benefit of praise that you might not think much about. Here’s an example:

You told Alice to do a SWOT analysis of a new product launch, identifying the company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. She presents before the executive team and you love what she did. So you say this to her:

“Alice, I made a note here that on slide three you stated that XYZ Company was a sleeper. I’d never thought of that. The four bullets that laid out the data behind your conclusion were totally convincing. Also, toward the end when several people challenged you about the market size, you held your own nicely. It was impressive the way you reached into your file and pulled out the data that backed up your claim.”

This praise is powerful for several reasons. For one thing, it’s specific, a far cry from a lazy, generic compliment such as “nice job.” For another, it shows that you, the boss, really “get” that Alice is good because she makes claims backed up by research.

But there’s another thing this compliment does: It communicates very clearly to Alice what you value – research! Through the vehicle of praise, you’re reinforcing the notion that in marketing opinions are a dime a dozen – what separates successful marketers from poor ones is how well they do their homework.

When you coach employees you probably tell them explicitly what you value all the time. But sending the message indirectly, on the back of a compliment, is extremely effective as well.

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