When it comes to talking with employees about performance, too many leaders take a “hands off” approach when employees are doing their jobs right and only talk to employees about performance when things go wrong. However, if you see people doing great work and you ignore it, they start to wonder whether “going the extra mile” or taking the time to do things right is worth it when no one seems to care. As a result, performance often drops. The bottom line is great work that gets noticed gets repeated.
If you want your employees to keep doing great work, you need to praise them when you see it.
Here are three simple steps for providing your employees with meaningful praise.
Praise face-to-face and use the person’s name.
Leaving a note or sending an email is nice, but taking the time to seek someone out and provide face-to-face praise shows them their great performance really means something to you. It also allows you to use your nonverbal communication, such as your tone of voice and facial expression, to reinforce the sincerity of your praise, or your enthusiasm about their great performance.
Additionally, using the person’s name adds an extra level of sincerity and personalizes the praise. When you say, “Wow, Paul! You really handled that call well . . .”, Paul will note that the praise is specifically about him and not some generic comment you make to everyone, such as “Keep up the good work, dude.”
Tell people exactly what they did well so they’ll know what to do again next time. Don’t just say, “You really handled that call well.” Go on to say, “I could tell that the customer on the line was upset because I could hear her yelling. However, you stayed calm and clearly explained what she needed to do to return the product.”
Share the positive results of the person’s good work.
Once you’ve said exactly what was done that was so great, be sure to share why it was so great. It’s important that employees see the impact of their good work and understand why it’s so important to do every job well. “As a result of the way you handled the call, the customer not only calmed down, but she sent me an email telling me about how well you dealt with the situation. She said you made her a lifelong customer.”
Taking the time to praise employees is just as important, if not more important, than taking the time to address performance problems. It’s an integral part of the employee feedback process that should be done regularly. Don’t walk away from a situation THINKING, “Wow, she really handled that well.” Turn around, open your mouth, and share the good news.