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Jun 18

Giving Proper Praise Is Profitable

Posted by: Steve Marr

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Parents and grandparents lavish praise on little ones at every opportunity. The first steps bring congratulations, first words bring approval, and any effort at drawing is treated as a great work of art. We give out this praise because we want to encourage more development. We also know that our praise and encouragement help children grow and develop.

Likewise, praise used appropriately on the job will help your staff grow, develop, and become more effective employees.

Paul instructed, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthily think about such things” (Philippians 4:8 NIV). Studies have demonstrated that 80% of workers will actually improve workplace performance when praised! Paul gives examples of what to look for, and then you can praise your staff.

In addition, Solomon wrote, “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise” (Proverbs 8:2 NIV). We need to use praise effectively, not just because we obtain enhanced performance from staff, but because the idea of praise is ordained by the Lord.

Consider several rules for giving praise. 

#1 — Be as personal and specific as possible. Marty would tell the sales crew “Good job” after a good week, and the good words were appreciated, but when he began being more specific, approaching each person individually after a great effort, he noticed that the overall morale improved.

Some of Marty’s specific words of appreciation included: 

•    “Responding to the customer quotation immediately helped land the new customer. Good job!” 

•    “Your persistence in repeatedly following up got the business. Good job!” 

When you are precise in your complimenting, people will understand exactly what work was great … and will endeavor to repeat the effort!

#2 — Look for things done right and then be positive.
Weather forecasters tend to say there is a 10% chance of rain, rather than say there is 90% chance of sunshine. Granted, mistakes may be obvious and require correction, but every day, most people do most things well most of the time. Seek out good work, recognize that work, and then communicate approval to each individual.

When you intentionally seek out positive examples, you might be amazed at the number of occurrences. Try counting each day the number of times you find reason to compliment a colleague. 

#3 — Be liberal with praise.
King Solomon wrote, “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty” (Proverbs 11:24 NIV). Solomon understood when we give out, including kind words, we receive more back.

When you compliment good work, you encourage more of that good great work in the future. Solomon added, “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25 NIV). 

I have met business owners who believe that if they say many positive words, people will get spoiled. In reality, most employees like doing a good job and want some feedback. Children crave approval from parents and staff will desire approval from a boss. Withholding compliments will crush morale, while using praise liberally will encourage better work in the future.  

#4 — Praise must always be genuine and authentic. Anything phony will be spotted in an instant. When you look regularly, you will find enough good work to compliment. Another advantage of positive feedback is that when you need to point out opportunities for improvement, your criticism will be better received.

#5 — Be consistent and equal with praise. The praise that you give out must be given out consistently and be given out to everyone. Recognizing one person’s accomplishment while ignoring another person’s accomplishment would of course have a negative impact on morale. Similarly, you must continually give out praise. A positive word means a lot, and it will mean a lot six months from now. So keep it up.

My advice is to just try it.

Look for opportunities for affirmative reinforcement. Count the number off times you compliment colleagues. See if you can add to your total each week. Then look back and you will likely see more enthusiasm and better work. 

The use of genuine praise and positive reinforcement is one of the most inexpensive and effective management techniques available. Use the practice King Solomon understood and watch you leadership become more effective.

Giving praise is profitable!

Steve Marr, Your Christian Business coach

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