Pack More POWER Into Your Employee Praise
It may come as a shock to you, but the #1 reason employees leave their jobs isn’t because they want more money or greater status. It’s because they don’t feel appreciated, according to research cited on Real-Time State of Employee Engagement. Sadly, appreciating employees is something leaders can do easily and in quite a number of ways. However, whether leaders get caught up in other vital responsibilities or because they simply haven’t developed consistent habits that support appreciation, the power of praise isn’t fully realized in many organizations. What suffers, among other things, is the bottom line, particularly due to higher turnover rates. So what’s the solution? Packing more praise into your communications so it becomes much more than a habit, it becomes part of your culture.
1. Make Praise A Daily Part Of Your Job
After surveying over 7,600 people on the topic of providing feedback, Harvard Business Review concluded that the reason 37% don’t provide positive reinforcement to employees is that they aren’t seeing it as critical to their jobs.
“Many managers feel that it’s their job to tell their direct reports bad news and correct them when they make a mistake, but that taking the time to provide positive feedback is optional,” the article states.
Given this, we believe you’ve got to embrace and fully own the practice of praise. See it as a must-do instead of a should-do. If you think you’re already good at it, track it for a week or so—notice when you’re saying something positive, appreciative or grateful to employees and make a note of it. If you’re not doing it daily, that’s got to change whether you’re pointing out something remarkable or just praising someone for consistently doing what they are simply hired to do. It’s ALL worth mentioning because it reinforces the behaviors you expect and need.
2. Take Fluff Out Of Feedback
In other words, when you share your appreciation for someone or give praise, give it substance and make it matter! If it’s not meaningful, your employees won’t trust it—or you. The best way to do this is to be specific about what they’re doing right or well and then tell them why it’s important. This way, it becomes far more than just a “telling” moment; it becomes a “teaching moment.”
For example, don’t just say, “Good job, Juan, I appreciate you.” Instead, try something like, “Juan, I noticed you solved that customer’s problem in less than five minutes, and she left our store feeling great—that is the kind of service that makes people want to come back and contributes to customer loyalty. Great job!”
3. Put Positive Recognition Into Regular Performance Reviews
A lot of managers and other leaders don’t look forward to giving performance reviews. One of the obvious reasons is that they dread talking about negative performance and hurting employees’ feelings. It’s understandable. Yet as leaders, we can’t possibly get better performance if we’re not being honest with our people.
So what can help? Accountability measures and reports, disclosing where corrective action needs to take place, are proven tools for presenting information to employees that needs to be addressed, particularly opportunities for improvement. However, accountability measures and reports may also provide a chance to note successes and areas of growth—to which you must certainly dedicate some time to discuss. When giving your regular performance reviews, commit to finding at least three activities, behaviors, examples, etc., of what your people are doing well. Talk about their relevance, exploring how this staff member can do more of what’s right, perhaps role-modeling this for other team members or even mentoring others on those same abilities/skills. This approach goes beyond simply calling attention to what’s positive—it takes recognition deeper, pushing it beyond that team member and throughout your organization’s culture.
What have been some of your most successful activities around employee recognition? Why did they work so well?