Making Praise Meaningful

Published on November 22, 2016 in Leadership & Development
Bob Myers
Bob Myers
Chief Operating Officer

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How often do you throw out comments such as “good work” or “great job”? These “drive-by compliments” are a quick and easy way to tell someone that they are on the right track.  However, if we intentionally take the time to be more specific with praise, we provide more beneficial feedback that will make a lasting impression. It takes time and effort, but also takes advantage of a valuable opportunity to coach in an informal way.   

If you compliment your team on a great presentation, you will most likely generate goodwill and encourage extra effort in the future. However, if you tell them that you appreciated the way that they engaged the audience and felt that the clarity of their presentation materials was outstanding, you are showing that you were paying attention, noticed the details and care enough to provide well thought-out feedback. You are telling them exactly what they did right.  Not only is the praise more meaningful, but it gives your team members valuable direction toward future development.  They will know not only what they did right, but also where they can continue to improve.

With an eye toward encouraging the use of positive feedback in a detailed and descriptive way, we rolled out the “You Earned It” program in 2016. This has become an often-used, high profile coaching tool that helps us all be more appreciative of one another. Each associate is granted a number of “You Earned It” points that they can award to team members as recognition for accomplishments. When an associate chooses to award points, they are asked to describe the reason for the award and select the skills and company values that the recipient displayed in order to earn the points. 

Ultimately, associates may redeem points for a variety of rewards including gift certificates, use of a stand-up desk or tickets to an event. Our intranet homepage offers a scrolling feed of points being awarded and rewards being claimed so that the praise is highly visible to everyone in the company.  We have found that the “You Earned It” program has been extremely well received and is providing an excellent platform for promoting ongoing coaching and feedback within and between the teams.

Whether you choose to implement a system such as “You Earned It” or take a simpler approach, the power of a specific, well thought-out and meaningful compliment can be significant. Make the most of positive coaching opportunities – both you and your team will be glad you did.

Bob Myers
Bob Myers
Chief Operating Officer