It's no secret that employee praise -- ranging from a pat on the back to major public kudos -- is a good thing. But many managers struggle with this soft skill or don't give it enough credence, says Bill Flint, founder of Flint Strategic Partners, a management consulting firm in Goshen, Ind.
"Too often, leaders get caught up in telling people what they're doing wrong instead of showing that they care," he says. To reap the rewards of a kind word or two, here are five ways to easily incorporate performance-boosting praise into your organization.
1. Stop and talk to employees. As you walk through your office, take time to stop and talk to employees, thanking them for their hard work. It sounds simple, says Flint, but that kind of unexpected praise can put pep in the step of most employees.
2. Pinpoint praise-worthy acts. Encourage managers and employees to point out team members and co-workers who are working hard on a project or going above and beyond their job descriptions. Then, write a note or make a point to personally thank that person right away.
Be specific, says Flint. Praise the behavior you want to foster, such as, "I was so impressed by the way you organized that meeting agenda and accomplished everything in less than an hour. I appreciate that kind of efficiency."
3. Reward good ideas. Employees who find ways to save money or improve operations are valuable assets and need to be recognized. If someone in your organization makes an improvement, make a big deal about it. Thank the person publicly. Depending on the idea and situation, an email blast might be appropriate in addition to the one-on-one appreciation, and let other employees know that type of innovation is valued.
4. Don't forget to praise productive failure. Sometimes, hard-fought battles don't work out as planned, but still deserve praise. If team members have given their all to a project that didn't succeed or a sale that was lost to a competitor, it's important to recognize those efforts.
"They probably feel defeated. It's your job, as the company owner, to tell them that their work is appreciated and help get their heads back into the game," Flint says.
5. Recognize milestones. When an employee hits the five- or 10-year mark with your company, do something. Keeping good employees is critical for any business to succeed. Thank the employee and incorporate a small gift or incentive to show you appreciate his or her loyalty.