Praise: How to See and Say it

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Let’s look at praise: how to see it and how to say it.

Every leadership program, including ours, will tell you that positive reinforcement is a good thing. It helps motivate your team and builds on the good things happening in your department.

The question for you is how many good things are happening on a given day?

Participants in one of our leadership workshops said that only 30% went well in a typical day. In fact, there was a range of only 30% to 70%. The general manager piped up and said, “Actually, our numbers show that 99.3% of our product goes through our facility without a problem.”

Why would the participants see it as being so low when, in reality, it’s so high?

It’s because so much of your day is focused as a frontline leader on catching mistakes and fixing problems. But once you realize that most of the things happening in your department are actually positive, you’ll learn that you could gain a lot by mentioning those positive things in the form of praise.

So, let’s take a look. How do you both see it and say it?

Here are a few questions that will help you reflect each day in order to be able to deliver more praise.

Question number one. Who on your team has stepped up their performance, their helpfulness, or their behavior? Has somebody turned things around from that perspective?

Number two. Have any new team members impressed you in terms of how quickly they’re learning the job and mastering their new tasks? New employees need reinforcement.

Number three. Has your team improved in any performance measurement? Has your productivity gone up? Has your safety improved? Has your quality performance improved?

When delivering praise, do these two specific things. Share on X

First of all, be specific about what the person did. “Hey. Thanks for working the extra hours today. That really helped us out.” Then, second, tell them why what they did was important. “By working those extra hours, that helped us make sure that the truck got shipped on time. Our customer will appreciate it and it will probably get more business for us.”

By being specific about what they did and why what they did was important, you’ll help reinforce those behaviors. Your team will be perked up and they’ll continue doing those good things in the future.

Now, many people have trouble accepting praise. They’ll say things like, “No problem. I was just doing my job.” or “No big deal. No worries.”

When that happens, in order to drive your praise home to a deeper level, add one little tag phrase to the mix. Just say, “It was important to me, and I appreciate it.” That way, the person will find that your praise lands, it resonates with them, and they might even get better at accepting praise going forward.

Obviously this works both ways, if someone delivers praise to you, I encourage you to accept it fully by saying, “Oh, you’re welcome.” or “It was my pleasure.”

Use praise to your advantage, it’s a powerful tool that every effective leader learns to use efficiently.

How often do you praise one of your employees? Share your answer in the comments.

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