Why Employee Praise Can Backfire – And How to Do It Right

Access this video now and show your managers and supervisors how to avoid the mistakes that can turn well-intentioned employee praise into a destructive force that de-motivates workers and kills productivity.

This guide will show you:

  • Examples of situations where “praise” isn’t about praising at all
  • An especially dangerous misuse of praise that could erode your credibility as a manager
  • The secret to ensuring that praise delivers the motivational message you intend

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More information for those who love the details …

The power of praising employees

How many times have you heard speakers and book authors say that managers need to praise people? Employees are hungry for praise, we’re told. Encouraging words and pats on the back are the greatest of all motivators, and managers who don’t give enough praise will inevitably lose their best people and fail to get results.

But wait a minute. Praise isn’t as simple as the “experts” sometimes make it seem. It’s not something you want to spread around randomly like peanut butter in your organization. And it’s certainly not a shortcut that allows you to bypass the hard work it takes to genuinely engage and motivate your people.

Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, “Make me feel important.”
– Mary Kay Ash

Experienced managers know that motivational communication occurs on multiple levels. You have the literal words you speak – call it the “text” of your message – but you also have “subtext,” which is often what leaves the biggest impact on those you’re speaking to.

Access Why Employee Praise Can Backfire – And How to Do it Right and get the details of this critical aspect of praising employees.

Praising employees the wrong way can be devastating

Praise is complex because it’s used to accomplish a wide range of goals other than showing approval or appreciation. And it can backfire. As a manager, the better you understand the complexity of praise, the more effective you’ll be at deploying it purposefully. And the better you’ll be at avoiding missteps where you send a message very different from what you intended.

Why Employee Praise Can Backfire – And How to Do it Right explains four common types of poorly crafted praise that can undermine your credibility as a leader.

  • Employee Praise Mistake #1: Praise that sends the message, “You’re my subordinate and I’m in a position to judge you.”
  • Employee Praise Mistake #2: Praise that makes employees believe they’re being manipulated.
  • Employee Praise Mistake #3: Praise intended to soften the blow of a reprimand or criticism.
  • Employee Praise Mistake #4: Praise that’s perceived as disingenuous.

The secret to making employee praise work

So what’s the secret that will ensure that the praise you give has the impact you want it to. Praise works when you:

  1. Invest the time required to decide that what the person did was indeed praiseworthy
  2. Give specific examples of what pleased you, and
  3. Show that you “get” the person’s talent.

The bottom line: Using praise successfully has nothing to do with quantity. In fact, using it randomly or excessively could easily end up de-motivating people. Use praise sparingly but purposefully. If you can cite the specific reasons that a person deserves praise, and make them feel they have a special talent, your praise will be credible and have the huge impact all those experts are always talking about.

Learn more about what it takes to deliver employee praise the right way. Get your copy of Why Employee Praise Can Backfire – And How to Do it Right as part of a free trial to the Leadership & Management Rapid Learning Center


Steve Meyer
Stephen Meyer
CEO, Rapid Learning Institute


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