People Need To Hear It!
I read a statistic recently that said, 17% of employees feel they are being recognized or praised enough. Yet 54% of supervisors in the same group say they praise people all the time. I don’t care whether this is correct or not, it’s all still wrong in my book. We do not recognize or praise our people enough. Period.
There are many ways to praise someone and it doesn’t have to be elaborate with fan fare and fireworks. The simplest comments can make a world of difference to someone. The number one rule in praising is: “You can’t praise everyone all the time, because if you do, you praise no one.” So, if you don’t mean it, if you are not authentic, then don’t say it. If you are not sincere when you praise someone, they will know it or find it out and once that happens you will have another title other than “supervisor.” You will be known as a “hypocrite.” Another word they may use, which is not as nice is: “liar.” It’s tough trying to lead people with either one of those monikers hanging around your neck. So, don’t do that. Mean what you say.
The second of the four main pillars of being a leader (stated previously) is you have to “know your people” and this is critical and required if you are going to praise them. If you know them you will know who they are, how good they are, and what they have done to deserve the praise you are about to give them. Here is an example:
You are an Executive Vice President of Human Resources and you have been working for your company10 years. The CEO calls you up and tells you that a U.S. Senator is coming to visit the headquarters tomorrow at 10 AM and you and he are going to show him around for a couple of hours. He asks for you to meet the Senator in front of the building when he arrives and bring him up to his office. You say, “No problem.” You immediately call your photographer, Stephanie and ask her to be at your side when the Senator shows up tomorrow morning. She tells you she will be there early. You know Stephanie fairly well because she has worked as the company photographer and with you for the last seven years.
So, 9:55 next day, you and Stephanie are in front of the headquarters building and sure enough, here comes the Senator’s limo right on time. As the Senator steps from the car, you shake his hand and the photographer is taking pictures. You exchange greetings with him, and the photographer politely arranges a couple of quick pictures as the two of you converse briefly. You finally say, “Senator I know you don’t have a lot of time, so let’s go up to Mr. Jameson’s office so we can show you some of the great things we are working on.” The photographer catches one more shot and the three of you walk into the building to catch the elevator up to the CEO’s office. As you approach the elevator and push the button, you say, “Senator, I’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Sayers. She has been with us for the last 7 years and has been the best photographer we could ever have hoped for. She also won the employee of the year award last year.” They face each other; shake hands and some quick pleasantries exchanged between the two. As the elevator door opens up, everyone climbs into the elevator to go up.
What do you think Stephanie is thinking right now? How does she feel? When will she ever forget the time she personally met a Senator? Let me give you an idea. She is thinking that her boss knows what she does and appreciates her work. She is thinking that she really must be good at her job. Her self-esteem is through the roof and she will never forget this moment. She will be telling her grandchildren about this moment. AND HOW LONG DID IT TAKE??!! 20 seconds? And look what came from it.
Not every moment is as magical as meeting a Senator, but there are many more times we can find and use to everyone’s advantage.
Another example: Everyone goes home at night….right? As the supervisor, you are usually one of the last to leave. You always pass Bob’s desk on your way to the exit door. Most nights you pass him, smile and say something like, “Have a nice night.” He says, “You too.” But not this night. This time as you leave, you say the traditional words and continue to walk, but stop short and come back to Bob. You ask him if he has a minute and he says, “Yes.” And you casually, but seriously say, “I just want you to know I appreciate all the work you do here. Over the last 2 months you have done some great work on the 3 different projects I have given you. Project “X” was done early and exceptionally detailed. The other two, “Y” and “Z” were done on time and couldn’t have been better. I thought they were great and my boss commented on how well they were coordinated and prepared. Bob, your individual efforts really make a difference on how this office runs and I appreciate all you do and how well you do it. I just want you know that. Thanks again. Have a nice night.” So, there you have it. 35 seconds of recognition or praise and you have made Bob’s night, or maybe his week. Was it in front of a crowd? No, but it didn’t need to be. It was heartfelt (authentic), timely, personal and specific. It included the four elements you need to praise someone effectively and you did it because he deserved it.
Praising people is a critical leadership skill and it’s not difficult, it does not need to be lengthy, and as long as you are giving it when deserved (not just to give it) the recognition will have an incredible positive impact. It shows your employees that you appreciate their hard work, are paying attention to them, and not just concerned with the bottom line. Don’t you like it when someone appreciates you and your work? Reverse it.